Analyst Sees Potential Apple, Satellite Partnership for A La Carte HDTV

[Satellite TODAY Insider 04-13-12] Computer and electronics giant Apple may be planning to launch a new HDTV this year featuring an a la carte programming service that could find the company partnering with satellite pay-TV operators DirecTV or Dish Network to provide smart TV-type services, according to an April 12 report by BTIG Analyst Rich Greenfield.

   While Greenfield said the move is likely, he added that investors might have to wait longer than expected for the deal to come through.
   “Apple will need a lot of agreements between parties and networks that are still trying to figure out if they are friends or enemies or somewhere in between,” Greenfield said. “Apple, however, could make a deal with DirecTV or Dish Network to develop a new TV interface or device that would provide live TV, a cloud-based DVR and a ‘TV Everywhere’ service that would send live signals to iPads and other mobile products.”
   For Apple, a partnership agreement with a satellite operator would make more sense than a cable operator, as satellite maintains national rights to programming while cable operators do not.
   “Cable operators are regional, so Apple would have to partner with a bunch of them to get its Apple TV service off the ground,” said Greenfield. “The solution could be to partner with a TV provider with a national footprint that has little to lose with someone like Dish or DirecTV. And once those guys rake in the big money, the cable boys will come to their senses and eagerly partner with Apple as well.”
   Greenfield believes that once consumers embrace the new Apple/satellite device, they would want their TV to offer the same services, which would open the door to Apple launching its own company-branded set. “Some analysts see Apple having some difficulty persuading the networks to allow their channels to be offered a la carte. The networks believe that program bundles, which are now offered by cable and satellite services, generate more revenue. This roadblock will delay the introduction of an Apple HDTV until at least 2013.”
   Greenfield also acknowledged that speculations around a new Apple TV product were fueled by the biography of Steve Jobs, in which the late CEO said that he “finally cracked” the challenge of building an integrated TV experience that’s easy to use. “Jobs essentially described the exact opposite of your typical cable TV experience, with its hundred-plus channel guide and its overwhelming remote controls,” said Greenfield. “In other words: For Apple to revolutionize television, it would have to offer access to linear TV, with a new interface.”

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