I stopped putting a lot of stock in TV-related Apple rumors awhile ago, so I don’t want to over-analyze today’s edition, by former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin, citing unnamed “media executives” that Apple is in talks with the networks about some sort of combined live-and-on-demand video service via Apple set-top box (or perhaps a TV). But for the sake of conversation, here are a few speculative thoughts on what they might be talking about.
Apple already offers ala carte downloads of TV content via iTunes, so presumably what we’re talking about here is a streaming service, probably via subscription. Recreating the full cable bundle wouldn’t make a lot of sense for Apple (and would likely be cost-prohibitive) so, again presumably, we’re talking about some sort of smaller bundle of channels or (less likely) an ala carte channel offering. For the most part, those deals would simply be a matter of price…
No great surprise that Hulu’s network owners have decided not to sell after all. Disney-ABC Television Group president Anne Sweeney telegraphed the possibility at the All Things Digital conference back in May. But what the process produced is something pretty close to a fiasco for the networks.
Publishing The New York Times and Conde Nast each reversed its policy recently regarding aggregation of their content through the iPad and Android reading app Flipboard, and the reversals are revealing on the question of value-capture for online content publishers.
After originally allowing all digital content from The New Yorker and Wired to be pulled into the Flipboard app, Conde Nast is now pulling back. From now own, Flipboard users will be limited to a hyperlinked headline and a few sentences for stories from those publications. To read the full story, users will have to click through to the magazines’ own web site — that is, out of the Flipboard app. Conde Nast is also pulling back from its efforts to sell ads in the Flipboard feeds for the two publications. Read More »
Antitrust The U.S. Justice Department has opened a “wide-ranging antitrust investigation” into whether cable operators are illegally using bandwidth caps and other tactics to try to squash growing competition from online video services like Netflix, the Wall Street Journal reported last week. Subsequent reporting by the Journal revealed the investigation also covers the satellite TV services Dish Network and DirecTV, and that the feds are also looking into whether pay-TV operators are using so-called most-favored nation clauses in carriage agreements with the networks to restrict the network’s ability to license their content to online, over-the-top distributors.
The investigation and the issues at stake, particularly the department’s apparent focus on most-favored nation agreements, carry distinct echoes of the lawsuit the Justice Department filed in April against Apple and several leading publishers over an alleged conspiracy to fix prices in the e-book market. As in the cable industry investigation, the e-book lawsuit charges Apple with using most-favored nation clauses in its agency licensing agreements with the publishers to ensure that neither Amazon nor any other e-book retailer gets a better deal than Apple got or can sell e-books at prices lower than Apple’s price. Read More »