March 12, 2012
Last November, we reported that CBS turned down Apple’s request to be a part of a rumored iTV initiative. Now, CBS CEO Les Moonves has added some more details about those failed talks, according to The Hollywood Reporter. According to the report, talks between the two companies reached the highest level in 2011, with both Moonves and the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs brought in to complete a deal. Unfortunately, the talks fell apart because Apple wanted to split advertising revenue between the two companies.
Moonves told a conference audience that he met with Jobs, the late Apple CEO, and heard a pitch for what was billed as a subscription content service, but ultimately he said he wasn't interested in providing CBS shows or films to the venture. "I told Steve, 'You know more than me about 99 percent of things but I know more about the television business,' " Moonves said, citing his concerns about providing content to a service that could disrupt CBS' existing revenue streams. Moonves said Jobs, in characteristic fashion, strongly disagreed with his assessment.Instead of sharing revenue, CBS likes to negotiate licensing deals, which has meant big money for the company. For example, in 2011 CBS negotiated deals with other streaming providers including Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Moonves’ comments don’t necessarily mean there won’t be an iTV. However, they could mean Apple’s finished product could lack key programming from the start. After all, CBS is the top-rated network in the U.S., while the CBS Corporation itself includes the The CW and the Showtime networks. With this in mind, Apple could move along and release an iTV without CBS programming, or wait until a compromise is reached. Unfortunately, neither solution would be ideal for consumers. The first, naturally, would deny iTV owners important programming, while the latter would probably delay the TV’s launch. Talk about a real Apple TV has picked up speed since Steve Job’s death last October. It was soon after that Jobs was quoted in his official biography that he had ““cracked” a way to make an integrated TV set that was easier to use – a major jump from the current Apple TV add-on box.” A third generation Apple TV was unveiled last week. Hopefully Moonves’ most recent comments are a way to bring Apple back to the negotiating table. In other words, after further talks between Apple and CBS, an iTV will arrive and include all of the programming we’d expect from such a product. Should Apple wait for CBS before unveiling a real Apple TV?