AllThingsD reports the company has been talking with networks about a $30 per month plan that would deliver programming via the popular software. The service would not be tied to specific hardware (such as Apple TV or the rumored tablet).
Apple is hoping to launch the service early next year, but so far no network has signed on – not even Disney-owned ABC, where Steve Jobs is on the board of directors. The nets are said to be cautious, as they don’t want to upset their cable system partners (and the subscription fees they generate).
Streaming video online is coming of age quickly. Netflix has seen incredible success with its “Watch Instantly” option – signing deals to stream via select Blu-Ray players, the Xbox 360 and (starting later this month) the PlayStation 3. Amazon offers a similar service and even YouTube has had a few successful experiments with long-form content as well.
Then, of course, there’s Hulu, which has found a solid audience online and is now exploring ways to further monetize itself.
With the large installed base of iTunes and the many outlets it services (including the iPhone and desktop PCs), there’s some promise in this. And with the influx of internet-enabled television sets hitting the market and predicted to grow fast, the time could be right for Apple to make a play in the field.
There are, of course, lingering questions. Even if Apple gets the major networks on board, would the service be equivalent to cable offerings? What about premium channels? Would programs be aired in conjunction with their broadcast premieres or would they be time delayed, as they are with FLO TV?
It’s an intriguing idea, though – and it sure would be interesting to see how Apple would distribute it. Hopefully, we’ll learn more at the company’s January event.