Apple OTT: The rumor with more lives than a cat

February 6, 2015 | By More

Call it the rumor that wouldn’t – or couldn’t – die: Apple is planning its own virtual MSO.

Re/code is reporting that unnamed “industry executives” claim Apple has been in early discussions with content owners about launching a subscription video service.

Apple TV

There’s no other detail available, aside from a disclaimer that the talks appear to be in their nascent stages, and that Apple is showing a pre-alpha demo of the product.

Which actually sounds a lot like the two or three other rumors over the past six years that said Apple was “poised” to become a virtual MSO or – at the very least – ready to roll out an SVOD service to compete with Netflix, Hulu and, now, of course, Amazon and its Prime Instant Video service.

The rumor has evolved over time. Back in September 2009, Apple was reportedly looking at launching a bundle of channels for $30 a month, with Disney as a likely partner since, at the time, Apple CEO Steve Jobs was on the Disney board and was a major shareholder. Also reportedly showing interest was CBS. Other industry execs, however, were less enthused and reportedly were worried about butting heads with their other partners – and this should sound familiar — pay-TV operators.

Over the years, other stories have surfaced about Apple and a virtual pay-TV play, especially as the iPhone and iPad gained momentum.

Apple’s current CEO, Tim Cook, has often referred to the company’s interest in Apple TV –the streaming media device and Apple’s other big rumor, the better-than-all-the-rest Ultra HD TV set and a potential live linear streaming service – as a hobby.

This time around, however, the rumor of a pay-TV service is surfacing in a far different world:

  • Dish has debuted it’s own $20 OTT pay-TV service (which counts Disney as a partner).
  • CBS is streaming live linear in several markets with plans to expand to more.
  • HBOGo is on tap for an April OTT launch.
  • Verizon is planning a summer launch for its mobile OTT play. And,
  • Apple has significant and loyal relationships with users who have bought their mobile devices (not to mention the 25 million Apple TV boxes it’s sold).

All of which makes this rumor a lot more believable. Or, at least worth talking about at the moment.

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Category: ANALYSIS

Jim ONeill

About the Author ()

Jim O’Neill has been a business journalist since 1992, and has been writing about the digital media industry since 2007. He formerly was the editor of industry journals FierceIPTV and FierceOnlineVideo, and has worked as an industry analyst for international research firm Parks Associates. He currently is CEO and Editor of, a newsletter that takes a deeper look at the trends and happenings in the digital media industry, and continues writing research and white papers on a variety of topics in the sector. He can be reached at

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