Apple is working to finalize plans to start an Internet-based streaming television service that would include about 25 channels of content that would be viewable on the company's computers, smartphones and Apple TV set-top boxes.
The service, which would include programming from ABC, CBS, Fox and other networks, will be priced between $30 and $40 per month and will be launched in September, according to a March 17 report by The Wall Street Journal.
So far, Apple is not in talks about the project with Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal network, because of failed attempts by the two companies to arrange a streaming TV deal in the recent past, the news story reported. "Apple and Comcast were in talks as recently as last year about working together on a streaming television platform that would combine Apple's expertise in user interfaces with Comcast's strength in broadband delivery. Apple came to believe that Comcast was stringing it along while the cable giant focused on its own X1 Web-enabled set-top box," sources told the paper.
Instead, Apple has been talking to Walt Disney Co., CBS, 21st Century Fox and others to assemble less-expensive TV bundles that include channels like CBS, ESPN and FX, while leaving out many of the smaller networks that are included in typical standard cable TV packages, the news story reported.
Back in March 2014, Apple and Comcast, the nation's largest cable TV provider, were in talks to build a streaming-television project together, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Apple at the time was proposing a service that would let its customers stream live and on-demand TV programming while also storing digital-video recordings.
Earlier in March, Apple announced the expansion of its existing channels on its Apple TV set-top box with the creation of the new HBO NOW service in collaboration with HBO. The channel is available on Apple TV in the United States for $15 per month, without a cable or satellite subscription.
The streaming video service project is one of several interesting bits of news to come from Apple in recent weeks. On March 9, Apple unveiled its re-engineered MacBook, which is thinner and lighter, and has longer battery life than previous versions. Apple also announced its upcoming Apple Watch in a special presentation in San Francisco.
The new MacBook, which includes a new Force Touch touch-pad, starts at $1,299, while the Apple Watch, which will be available for preorder April 10, starts at $349 for a Sport version. The luxury Watch Edition versions will be priced from $10,000 to $17,000 for an Apple Watch in 18-karat gold. Apple Watches will be available to consumers starting April 24, when they will be in Apple stores and available for perusing and purchasing.
In February, reports surfaced that Apple is looking to diversify its business into electric car production, possibly, by as soon as 2020, as it explores new business opportunities outside of its core consumer technology and computer, tablet and smartphone businesses. Apple has apparently been hiring specialized engineers for the secret project, according to the reports.
For deep-pocketed Apple, such a project could be a way to invest some of its huge cash holdings of some $178 billion with nary a sweat. In January, Apple announced its best-ever quarter, posting $74.6 billion in revenue and $18 billion in net profits for the first fiscal quarter of 2015, due to a consumer frenzy of sales of its latest iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones, Mac computers, and apps and more in the company's App Store. The $74.6 billion revenue tally is a 30 percent increase from $57.6 billion in the same quarter the previous year, while the $18 billion in net profit is up 37 percent from $13.1 billion in the year-earlier quarter.