Apple and Comcast reportedly negotiating streaming TV service deal

Apple and Comcast are negotiating a deal that would bring streaming TV service to a future Apple TV device. What's more, Comcast would give traffic generated by such devices special treatment on its network, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Apple and Comcast aren't close to an agreement, said one person familiar with the talks. Delivering the service quality Apple envisions would require Comcast to make significant investments in network equipment and other back-office technology, according to people familiar with Comcast's thinking.

I have no doubt that Apple and Comcast have talked and probably are talking about how they can work together. I'm also very skeptical of the claim that Comcast would prioritize Apple's traffic from the rest of its network.

Comcast is bound by an agreement with the FCC that actively prohibits it from giving any company preferential network treatment. This was a compromise Comcast agreed to as part of its 2011 acquisition of NBC Universal, and that runs until 2018.

When a Federal Court overturned the FCC's net neutrality rules, Comcast was quick to note that it was still bound by its prior agreement. Now the FCC is working on new rules that it expects to pass muster with the courts.

After months of wrangling, Comcast and streaming video service provider Netflix finally reached an agreement in February that improved streaming video quality for Comcast customers. That arrangement didn't give preferential treatment for Netflix, however.

Instead, that agreement reduced peering bottlenecks between Netflix and Comcast, which skirts around the net neutrality issue. It's plausible that Apple and Comcast may be negotiating some sort of peering arrangement to make sure Apple doesn't run into the same sort of problems that Netflix did, but that doesn't give Apple priority on Comcast's network.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple wants to make its content a managed service, similar to how Comcast now works with its own on-demand video, which occupies a separate part of the data traffic that goes over Comcast users' broadband connection.

Anyway, a lot more questions than answers in this Wall Street Journal piece. It also says that Comcast and Apple aren't close to a deal yet, which means that the result of this effort could be a while away from seeing the light of day.

Update: The Information (opens in new tab) reports that Apple's device combines live TV listings with web video and has "a big focus on gaming," with users able to "watch virtually on their video on demand." Siri integration would be possible through use of other devices like iPhones and iPads. This report pegs it as a separate product, not a new Apple TV.

Peter Cohen
  • Directv, Directv, Directv. Sent from the iMore App
  • please tell me Apple isnt going to be an enabler when it comes to the destruction of net neutrality
  • Yep they are.
  • First off, fuck preferential service forever. But from a more practical standpoint, unless Comcast could deliver drastically better streaming performance to Apple TV than it does with its own proprietary On Demand service, just don't even bother. Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • The shortsidedness of TV executives is ensuring that the viewing experience will always be miserable.
  • “Delivering the service quality Apple envisions would require Comcast to make significant investments in network equipment and other back-office technology…” Who says Apple can’t kick in some major billions to make this happen? Or how about Apple buys Comcast?
  • on demand programming would be the natural next step for a tv set top box product, but if apple are to launch a tv box for every country they want to get into, and have to negotiate with suppliers of content, then its going to take an awful long time to roll that out worldwide, just look at iTunes radio. plus you've got the negotiating with the supplier to guarantee that service. i don't know why they don't take an app store approach to this, and let each supplier opt in as and when they want and if individuals want to subscribe to a service, then the individuals broadband has to be up to a certain standard e.g. youview in the uk has a 3 mb/s minimum for their on demand catchup service. i don't think apple can be held responsible for everyones broadband connection and then their quality of service as its logistically impossible. but maybe I'm probably missing something here with the content licensing, and probably thats why apple couldn't let each supplier opt in and take an app store approach to it?!?!?! games would have to be completely downloaded onto it to guarantee service though as they are just too big!!!
  • also had a strange thought, if the desktop market is shrinking, why not redo and regear the iMac and the marketing of it towards being a tv set.
  • If comcast is involved it won't be anything good.
  • Totally agree. Sent from the iMore App
  • Totally totally agree! Being a cord cutter for several years now, I see nothing new in this proposed arrangement that will benefit us.
  • The two biggest companies working together?, that could be bad for us?, High prices. Sent from the iMore App
  • "Skirts around" I think you misspelled "flouts" Sent from the iMore App
  • Yeah, can you say Overcharge!!?? Sent from the iMore App