An ad-less TV future for Apple?

TINY POWERHOUSE: The Apple TV set-top box allows users to play content from iTunes, YouTube and Major League Baseball on a TV set.


    Jul 18, 2013

    An ad-less TV future for Apple?

    APPLE is developing ad-skipping technology that would let owners of its Apple TV set-top box and future television devices watch shows without commercials, sources said.

    Apple executives have briefed at least two owners of broadcast TV networks and cable channels, as well as some of the biggest United States pay-TV systems, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. One proposal is for Apple to reimburse programmers for skipped ads, they said.

    The company is seeking to develop TV products with broader appeal than Apple TV, a set-top device purchased by 13 million consumers, chief executive Tim Cook said in May at the D: All Things Digital conference.

    Apple TV is more appropriate for "hobbyists" than for mainstream viewers, he said. Apple continues to work on a "grand vision" to update TV viewing that remains "much like 10 or 20 years ago", Mr Cook said.

    However, with advertising accounting for the largest share of their revenue, commercially-supported TV networks have resisted ad-skipping technology.

    Still, almost three quarters of consumers in a poll cited the ability to skip ads as a main reason to use a digital video recorder, Google's Motorola Mobility unit said in its annual media-engagement barometer released in March.

    Apple has been working to license more content for people to watch via Apple TV.

    Last month, it announced deals to offer apps from Time Warner's HBO and Walt Disney's ESPN to customers who already receive those channels from cable or satellite pay-TV services.

    The maker of iPhones and iPods is also reaching out to cable services, which buy content from media companies such as Disney. Apple is nearing a deal with Time Warner Cable that would let subscribers of that cable system watch channels on Apple TV, sources told Bloomberg. The companies plan to announce an agreement within the next few months, the sources said.

    Accessing content from the Internet on a TV set has become common since Apple introduced Apple TV in 2007. According to Leichtman Research Group, 44 per cent of US households have a TV set connected to the Internet through a video-game console, Blu-ray player or streaming devices such as Roku and Apple TV. That is up from 38 per cent a year ago, the research group said.

    More competition is coming up.

    Intel, the world's largest chip maker, plans to begin selling a set-top box with Web-based pay-TV service by the end of the year.

    Google has also held discussions with media companies about licensing content for an Internet-TV service, sources said on Monday.