ESPN President John Skipper says Apple is “frustrated” by it’s inability to make deals with content providers for its much-rumored streaming television package for the Apple TV. Skipper’s comments came during an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Skipper told the Journal, “They are creating a significantly advantageous operating system and a great television experience and that television experience is fabulous for sports. We are big proponents of believing it would be a fabulous place to sell some subscriptions. We have ongoing conversations. They have been frustrated by their ability to construct something which works for them with programmers. We continue to try to work with them.”
Apple has been reportedly working to put together a streaming television package for quite a few years, but has run into resistance at every turn from cable and content providers who are reluctant to make a deal due to fears of losing existing revenue streams.
CBS CEO Les Moonves recently said Apple had “pressed the hold button” on its plans for a streaming television package, due to an inability to make the necessary deals with providers. Moonves expressed confidence that a streaming package of the type Apple yearns for will be delivered to viewers, whether by Apple or another party. “This will happen,” he said. “People will not be spending money on channels they don’t want to watch.”
ESPN has a deal in place with Sling TV, which offers viewers streaming access to major cable channels. ESPN’s deal with Sling TV offered an out clause for the sports network if it found the deal was cannibalizing the network’s core pay TV revenue stream. Apple likely wouldn’t agree to that. The Cupertino firm is also reported to be running into roadblocks in getting content providers to unbundle their channels. (For example, Disney owns ABC, ESPN, and the Disney Channel, along with numerous other channels, the mouse would likely require a streaming service to offer all of the Disney-owned properties, much like their current satellite and cable contracts do.)
Skipper sees a number of “further announcements” of various streaming packages from companies in 2016, and also believes Apple will be among them.