Apple cozies to Comcast for possible streaming-TV service

vintage tv with appleIn a day loaded with rumors of new ambitions emanating from Apple, comes a report that the company is considering a Netflix-like streaming TV service. One aspect of this story comes in the wake of the FCC’s failed attempt to establish Net Neutrality regulations: Apple is having discussions with cable giant Comcast about paying for high-quality last-mile streaming into homes.

As with the nearly simultaneous reports that Apple is considering a subscription music service, it appears that the Cupertino company is awakening to the business potential of subscription-based access to content, in contrast to its legacy business model of paid downloads.

Both parts of the story connect with Netflix, which provides a leading streaming TV/movie service, and which recently also struck a deal with Comcast for premium performance into homes. Net Neutrality is an issue that potentially hinges into the streaming music business. If Internet service providers (like Comcast and other cable and telecom companies) are permitted to market throttled-up service to content companies with deep pockets, there is a potential marketplace disadvantage to startups, and potential discouragement of innovation.

A speculative example is Google’s YouTube, which is rumored to be preparing a music service launch this year. Video requires much more bandwidth than pure audio, so there is a plausible scenario in which YouTube partners with Comcast as Netflix has (and Apple is reportedly considering) to ensure smooth streaming to the end user.

On the other side of the coin, free-market advocates say that bandwidth owners (Comcast et al) should be at liberty to auction their product however they choose.

Brad Hill