Apple's Rumored Live TV Services Likely Won't Arrive Until 2016

Originally expected to start by September, contract negotiations with TV networks for content are taking longer than expected, according to a report.

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Apple's rumored live streaming television services are running behind schedule in getting off the ground due to slower than expected negotiations with TV networks for their content.

The slow negotiations mean that the live Apple TV service will now arrive in 2016, rather than in September 2015 as previously expected, according to an Aug. 13 report by Bloomberg.

"The company wanted to introduce this year a live TV service delivered via the Internet, but is now aiming for 2016, said people familiar with Apple's plans," according to the story. "Talks to license programming from TV networks such as those owned by CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox Inc. are progressing slowly, some of the people said. Apple also doesn’t have the computer network capacity in place to ensure a good viewing experience, said some of the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private."

Apple was expected to announce the upcoming service at a Sept. 9 product announcement event in San Francisco, but those plans have been scrapped, the report continued. However, the company is still planning to introduce the next version of its Apple TV set-top box at that event, the report continued.

The negotiations that have slowed the process involve the difference in the $40 a month Apple wants to be able to charge customers, compared to the higher prices expected by TV networks for their content, the report said.

"The TV programmers expect to receive more, not less, money from new Internet-based services like Apple than from existing cable and satellite TV partners, because they're new to the market and are seeking to gain share," the story said. "Talks with CBS, Fox and NBC, owned by Comcast Corp., have been mired for the past several months, said the people. The prospect of a new player willing to pay for their networks is particularly appealing to media conglomerates, given the declining number of pay-TV subscribers."

In March, reports began circulating that Apple has been 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 would include programming from ABC, CBS, Fox and other networks, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Apple has apparently 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.

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.

Earlier in August, reports began circulating that Apple would introduce its new set-top box Apple TV device in September. The devices haven't had any major updates since 2013. The new version will include a slimmer chassis, an updated remote and support for Apple's Siri digital personal assistant. Apple TV devices were introduced in 2007.

Rumors about the expected next version of Apple TV swirled before Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June, but the company did not announce the product at the event, according to earlier eWEEK stories. Instead, the company announced its new Apple Music streaming service with a big splash, again leaving Apple TV without a refresh, at least at the time.

Apple made its last significant improvements to its Apple TV devices back in June 2013, when it added HBO Go and WatchESPN programming to the product, according to a previous eWEEK report. Apple also added Sky News, a 24/7 news feed for users in the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland; Crunchyroll, the leading global video service for Japanese Anime and Asian media; and Qello, an on-demand streaming service for HD concerts and music documentaries.

Apple TV enables iTunes users to download and view video on an HDTV, as well as access their own music, videos and content.

The devices, which have arguably been the most oddball product in the iPhone maker's entire lineup, have never become a huge success and often have received little attention from the company. In March, Apple dropped the price from $99 to $69, hoping to boost sales.