Will Comcast’s Purchase of Time Warner Cable Torpedo Apple TV Talks?
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is rumored to be developing a revamped Apple TV set-top box that will provide users with new types of content, including additional video content from content providers such as Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), reports Bloomberg. According to unnamed “people with knowledge of the matter,” cited by the news service, the California-based company has been in negotiations with Time Warner Cable in order to gain access to a wider selection of television channels.
Apple TV customers currently only have limited access to some television channels via individual apps. Additionally, some of the channels can only be accessed after providing authentication credentials from a satellite or cable TV provider. Bloomberg reports Apple is attempting to improve the user experience for Apple TV customers by building a unified interface for television programming through partnerships with Time Warner Cable, Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), and DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV).
However, according to Bloomberg’s sources, Apple has run into difficulties in its negotiations with Comcast and DirecTV. The two content distributors have been reluctant to simplify the programming interface for Apple TV users by allowing them to login with their Apple IDs instead of their television subscription credentials.
Unfortunately for Apple, its negotiation difficulties with Comcast may soon extend to its talks with Time Warner Cable. According to a Comcast press release, Time Warner Cable will merge with Comcast in a “friendly, stock-for-stock transaction in which Comcast will acquire 100 percent of Time Warner Cable’s 284.9 million shares outstanding for shares of CMCSA amounting to approximately $45.2 billion in equity value.”
Although it is not yet known how this merger will affect Apple’s ongoing negotiations with Time Warner Cable, it should be noted that Comcast recently debuted its own digital media receiver, the X1, that provides services similar to what Apple TV provides. Comcast even noted its X1 device in the press release about the merger with Time Warner Cable.
“Comcast’s subscribers today have access to the most comprehensive video experience, including the cloud-based X1 Entertainment Operating System, plus 50,000 video on demand choices on television, 300,000 plus streaming choices on XfinityTV.com, Xfinity TV mobile apps that offer 35 live streaming channels plus the ability to download to watch offline later, and the newly launched X1 cloud DVR,” said Comcast.
Prominent industry analysts like Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster have long predicted that Apple would debut an Apple television, or “iTV,” per Business Insider. However, the latest rumors from 9to5Mac suggest that Apple’s long-rumored television product will actually be an upgraded Apple TV device with expanded capabilities.
Besides expanding and improving the television programming available through the device, some industry watchers have also said that Apple is adding game support to the upcoming Apple TV, per iLounge. This upgrade would allow users to directly download games to the digital media receiver. However, the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal may throw a wrench in Apple’s next-generation Apple TV plans.