It’s no secret that Apple is trying to assemble its own streaming television service to compete with Dish Network-owned Sling TV and other offerings for cord cutters. After all, the rumors have been floating around for months, confirmed by the likes of CBS executives and now, according to an interview with The Wall Street Journal, ESPN.
Stymied efforts to launch
In the interview, ESPN president John Skipper says that Apple has been “frustrated by [its] ability to construct something which works for them with programmers.” This is hardly news, since the delays in launching the service have been repeatedly noted as being caused by difficulties in finalizing deals with the networks. What Skipper does bring to the table as good news is the fact that the talks are ongoing, despite CBS’s earlier report that the service had been put on hold.
A lucrative market
It’s pretty clear that streaming television, especially a service with live offerings, is a lucrative market. According to Goldman Sachs (via Investors.com), Sling TV is set to reach 2 million subscribers by the end of 2016. Sling’s offerings target “cord nevers,” young adults who have shunned pay television, while Apple would likely go after that market as well as the growing audience of cord cutters, folks who have become frustrated with the rising costs of cable and satellite plans.
Then there’s the new Apple TV
Even if Apple’s own streaming service never gets off the ground, that won’t stop networks like ESPN from expanding their reach to cord cutters. Skipper is excited by the fourth-generation Apple TV, calling it “a significantly avantageous operating system and a great television experience.” Skipper stopped short of saying ESPN was working on a new app for the Apple TV, but did tell WSJ, “We are big proponents of believing it would be a fabulous place to sell some subscriptions.”
The Apple TV experience is just beginning
From these talks and rumors, it’s clear that what we currently have on the fourth-generation of Apple’s set-top box is just the beginning. The content might be a bit haphazard to locate, as our own Bryan Wolfe has pointed out, but this is bound to improve. If ESPN begins offering live sports via the set-top box, that would be a huge win for the Apple TV. I look forward to seeing what 2016 has in store for the future of television, as Apple CEO Tim Cook puts it, in apps.