updated 09:55 pm EDT, Thu November 3, 2011
CBS says Apple planned stream TV with shared cash
CBS chief Les Moonves may have inadvertently confirmed Apple's negotiations for a streaming TV service during the company's fiscal results call. He claimed that CBS had turned down a deal for a service because it would have split ad revenues. The executive didn't give details of what the service would have involved.
The mention of ad revenue implies that the service would have been free or heavily discounted. If so, CBS' decision to decline revenue would have been consistent with its refusal to sign on to Hulu like rival studios Disney/ABC, Fox, and NBCUniversal. It often insists on direct licensing fee payments, and Apple is well-known for refusing to make exceptions for deals unless it has no choice.
CBS has since made deals to offer shows like the various Star Trek productions, its own shows, and The CW's content to Netflix. Moonves said during the call that he was willing to supply content to multiple providers, since it guaranteed substantial revenue from online video even if one or more failed out.
Apple's negotiations may indirectly support talk of an Apple TV set. Late CEO Steve Jobs had hinted at having "cracked" TV, and while his focus was on iCloud syncing and an extremely simple interface, Apple could want a TV-style viewing model for iTunes as well. Although Apple is generally thought to lead pay-per-show Internet TV, it trails behind subscription services like Netflix. Google TV has so far failed with its current emphasis on the web: until the recent addition of apps, most if not all mainstream TV networks were actively blocking attempts to view their shows from a Google TV box. [via GigaOM]