For some time, the rumours about Apple’s future intentions to take on the TV market have centred around the belief that Apple will do deals with broadcasters and build a new set top box (or TVs with integrated receivers) that can also run iOS applications, access iTunes and third party apps.
But perhaps we’ve all been barking up the wrong tree.
We’ve discovered that in the US, Apple has just done an exclusive deal with a production company to make the last three episodes of Downton Abbey available exclusively on iTunes – before it will be watchable anywhere else Stateside.
If Apple is now intending to do this type of deal to secure broadcasting rights ahead of the traditional broadcasters, with access being via iTunes, perhaps it plans to compete head on with broadcasters, not seek to do deals with them.
The big broadcasters have every reason to want to protect their lucrative channel packages, forcing people to pay for channels they don’t want in order to get access to the ones they do – and they’re all keen to fight the gradual move towards people only paying for individual programmes.
So far, pay-per-view is generally only an option for TV and movies that have already been broadcast at least one via the traditional methods, such as satellite or cable.
However, if Apple decides to become a broadcaster in its own right – and it has plenty of money in the bank to buy the rights to more than just one rather popular ITV drama – broadcasters may have to rethink their next move.