An interesting development in the decline of the traditional television industry emerged on Thursday as powerful broadcast network CBS said that it was open to putting the network’s programming on Apple’s TV boxes, so long as it got the right price.
Apple TV has thus far been without live broadcasting from major TV studios, who stick to lucrative cable networks where they get far more money than their content is actually worth, thanks to longstanding agreements with the cable monopolies.
But like the recording industry, which Apple cracked years ago with iTunes, it seems the winds of change are blowing and television networks are now feeling the heat to get with the times and reach the large audiences of internet TV devices like Apple’s.
CBS CEO Les Moonves, whose network produces such shows as CSI and The Big Bang Theory, rightly pointed out that Apple’s entry into internet television will need a television network to create the entertainment and said he was open to that network being CBS, so long as he was paid ‘fairly’.
“The good news for us, is any one of those groups will need CBS,” he said, seemingly a bit over-confident that the allure of his network could command cable-like rates, which do not correlate to popularity but instead pre-negotiated agreements.
While CBS shows are on the unpopular Hulu a service, Apple would be looking for actual live TV and not just re-runs.
Whether this happens or not will be interesting as Moonves said the Cupertino-based giant was particularly stubborn, stating that “Apple TV is trying to change the universe.”
He may not be far off. iTunes changed the music landscape and there is little reason to believe Apple would set its sights lower for television.
Moonves’ comments show a deeply held belief that expensive television network programming will still be essential for web TV services. Yet providers, such as Netflix, Amazon and Yahoo have all opted to produce their own content when faced with unreasonable fees to license traditional TV shows.
The programming has been wildly popular and there is little reason to believe such online services won’t push forward into the long-coveted live sports markets. It’s not a stretch to believe that the NFL could end up on Netflix, for instance.
As U.S. cable providers have quickly move away from the lucrative bundle packages, which give networks like CBS is disproportionate share of revenues, to a-la-carte programming packages it will be interesting to see just how much networks like CBS can extract from giants like Apple.
If they wait too long they may well be coming cap in hand to Cupertino.