Apple close to resolving complex rights issues for streaming TV service

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Apple's new improved TV could be coming as early as this fall.
Apple's new improved TV could be coming as early as this fall.
Photo: Robert S. DonovanFlickr CC

Unsurprisingly, Apple’s attempts to reinvent television come with a few challenges attached. One of these is the fact that if the company wants to broadcast affiliate feeds, it must somehow wade through the complex rights issues that currently exist for local TV.

In short, Apple wouldn’t be allowed to show local programs from stations affiliated with networks such as CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox, because — despite these networks airing the content — they don’t actually own it.

If Apple wants to be be able to air this programming it would therefore have to negotiate with stations all around the U.S. to obtain individual rights. Fortunately, that’s where Apple’s impressive clout comes into play. Since it knows that a lot of people do still watch local TV, Apple is trying to persuade CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox to carry out the early stages negotiations in its place.  It seems to be working, too, since the New York Post says the networks are close to having the right to negotiate with Apple on behalf of their affiliates.

The decision doesn’t just benefit Apple, of course. By offering their feeds to Apple, affiliate groups such as Tribune and Sinclair will be able to share in the revenue Apple’s streaming TV service will produce.

The news report also notes that — rights issues aside — Apple’s TV service “is ready and it rocks,” that it could launch as early as late fall 2015, and that monthly price estimates will likely be in the $10-40 range. Given that Dish’s Sling service costs $20 per month and Sony PlayStation Vue’s tiered bundles cost $50-70, that would put Apple on the competitive side of average.