It could soon be a whole lot easier for Apple to compete with pay TV providers as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers a change to the definition of “multichannel video programming distributor.” To date, the term has been applied only to cable companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, or DirecTV. But as similar services continue to grow online, the FCC is questioning whether it should also apply to the likes of Hulu, Netflix, and in the future, Apple.
A change would mean that Apple would be free to offer up a number of TV channels just like any cable provider, without having to negotiate with those cable providers over expensive programming deals.
Of course, this could be hugely disruptive to the pay TV industry, and so cable providers are urging the FCC not to rush into a decision. For Apple, on the other hand, the ruling could be incredibly beneficial to its plans to deliver a new television set that offers up Apple’s own channels.
As things stand, Apple must approach each channel and negotiate programming deals that would allow it to show their content via an upcoming Apple television set. Of course, these channels don’t want you to “cut the cord” and say goodbye to your cable subscription, so they’re going to make it very difficult and very expensive for Apple to get what it wants.
However, if the FCC makes the changes it is proposing, there would be nothing to prevent Apple from offering a number of channels of its own and cutting deals with the TV studios directly.
You couldn’t ditch the cable companies altogether, of course, because you’d still need the Internet connection to watch TV. But you’d no longer need to sign up for those Internet and TV bundles. Whether this would see Internet prices rise as companies attempt to claw back their losses remains to be seen.