Comcast denies talking with Apple about TV service

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Apple isn't talking with NBC's parent company about a TV service. Photo: NBCUniversal
Apple hasn't approached NBC's parent company about a TV service. Photo: NBCUniversal

It turns out Apple isn’t talking with NBCUniversal about partnering for its forthcoming TV service. At least not yet.

How do we know? Because Comcast, NBCUniversal’s parent company, hasn’t been approached by Apple at all. But that doesn’t mean NBCUniversal’s content won’t be on Apple’s service when it launches.

“Not only has NBCUniversal not ‘withheld’ programming from Apple’s new venture, Apple has not even approached NBCUniversal with such a request,” said Comcast attorney Francis Buono in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission obtained by Recode.

This is the closest to a public confirmation we’ve gotten that Apple is indeed preparing a full-fledged TV service. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the iPhone maker had about 25 channels lined up to debut in June before a public release in September.

One of the biggest potential partners omitted from Apple’s talks was NBCUniversal, noted the Journal. That means not only that NBC likely won’t be part of Apple’s product, but channels like CNBC, MSNBC, The Weather Channel, Syfy, The Golf Channel, E! and USA Network also won’t be included.

Apple allegedly has other networks lined up, like ABC, CBS and Fox.

But why would Apple give such a large player like Comcast the cold shoulder? According to the Journal, the two companies’ negotiations soured after “Apple came to believe that Comcast was stringing it along while the cable giant focused on its own X1 Web-enabled set-top box.”

The real kicker is that Apple might not even need to approach Comcast to get NBCUniversal’s content. As Recode notes, when Comcast merged with NBCUniversal in 2010, they agreed to license their content to any online distributor if said distributor had deals in place with NBCUniversal competitors.