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Apple Pitches Premium U.S. Cable Bundle With HBO, Showtime, Starz: Report

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Taking an different approach to entering pay TV, Apple is reportedly proposing a bundle of three “premium” channels — namely HBO, Showtime, and Starz.

A new report from Recode says Apple is trying to bring together a deal to offer HBO, Showtime, and Starz without requiring viewers to sign up for a base-level channel package first. Apple is currently trying to talk these networks into becoming part of one standalone product that customers could access via iOS devices and Apple TV.

“The difference: Traditional pay TV operators, like Charter, usually require consumers to subscribe to a basic level of TV channels before it will sell them a premium bundle,” reads the report. “Apple could sell the bundle as standalone product, delivered via its iOS devices and its Apple TV set-top box.”

While the Cupertino company currently sells HBO, Showtime and Starz independently for $15 USD, $11 USD and $9 USD a month, respectively, it remains unclear how much the new bundle might cost.

Apple was previously rumoured to be considering offering its own streaming service back in 2015, but things ultimately fell through as the company failed to negotiate acceptable prices with the networks involved.

This effort might be easier for Apple to pull off, however, as it only includes three networks and not a long lineup of channels and broadcasters.

Right now Apple only has the promise of its own original shows which include Carpool Karaoke, Planet of the Apps, and Vital Signs. Adding in a premium channel bundle could be a big boost for Apple’s streaming plans — assuming it comes together at all.

As for Canada, don’t expect Apple to make in-roads when it comes leveraging cable TV deals here. Bell Media owns rights to HBO Canada, while Rogers and Shaw also dominate distribution of media when it comes to sports and speciality channels. We’ll be lucky if we get these media companies to support single sign-on for their tvOS and iOS apps.

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  • Dang. I cancelled our HBO subscription because the newer Telus DVR boxes don’t play HBO On Demand content in surround sound properly. There are audio hiccups every now and then, and when watching an immersive show like Westworld it’s extremely annoying. If Apple offered a reasonably priced monthly On Demand package, I’d probably go for it.

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