Apple working on Sling-style Internet TV service for cord-cutters

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Apple TV is way more than just a "hobby" to Tim Cook. Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

The rumor mill has been quiet as of late regarding Apple’s plans to disrupt the TV industry. But now Recode is reporting that Apple is in talks with programmers about doing its own Internet-based TV service for cord-cutters.

Similar to the way Dish’s Sling TV bundles channels together at an attractive cost, Apple would design its own experience around delivering content without the use of traditional cable companies.

Apple has been trying to get its own TV subscription service off the ground for years, with reports dating back to 2009 that it was pitching such a product to potential partners. Now that Sling TV is out, ESPN and HBO are unbundling, and Sony is about to release its own TV service, the right pieces appear to be falling into place.

Recode points out that talks are still early, which means it could still be a while before any sort of Apple-branded TV service sees the light of day.

“Apple has shown programmers demos of the proposed service, sources say,” according to the report. “But talks seem to be in the early stages, which means terms like pricing and timing aren’t close to being ironed out. Several programmers say they’ve yet to start talks with Apple at all.”

Sling television interface. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Sling’s television interface. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Sling TV provides a good picture of how Apple’s proposed service could work. For $20 per month you get access to everything on ESPN as well as CNN, Adult Swim, Disney Channel, TNT, TBS, Food Network and more than 100 other channels.

There are no contracts, so you’re free to bail whenever you want. The Sling TV app works pretty much the same way across all screens, so you get the same experience no matter what device you’re on.

There’s no DVR functionality, but you can pause and rewind live TV (except on ESPN). A couple of networks let you jump back to watch anything that’s aired in the last three days.

Apple’s take would likely prioritize ease of use and seek to standardize the experience across networks, which is Sling TV’s biggest shortcoming. Tight integration with Apple’s hardware would be a given, and such a service might finally be reason to update the neglected Apple TV set-top box.

Source: Recode