Apple said to plan September launch of subscription TV service

The tech giant is in talks with TV programmers about a service that would include about 25 channels, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Apple is said to be planning a fall launch of a subscription TV service that would work on all iOS devices, inlcuding the Apple TV. Apple

Apple's much-hinted-at subscription TV service may become a reality before the end of the year.

The iPhone maker is in talks with TV programmers to offer a Web-based subscription TV service that would launch in September, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing unidentified sources. The service would offer programming from about 25 channels, including major networks ABC, CBS and Fox, that would be available on all devices running Apple's iOS operating system, including the Apple TV, according to the report. (Disclosure: CBS is the parent company of CNET.)

The service, which is expected to be announced in June, would deliver programming across the Internet, like Dish's Sling TV product and Sony's upcoming service. The report did not reveal an expected subscription cost for the service but did note that some media executives pegged Apple's service at about $30 to $40 a month. Dish's Sling TV, meanwhile, is a $20 per month live TV package with 12 channels, including ESPN, TNT, CNN, HGTV and the Disney Channel. (Only US details have emerged at the moment.)

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Apple has hinted for quite some time that it's working on a more complete, over-the-top video streaming service. However, there have been no signs such a product is close to ready, which largely has been attributed to difficulties securing content deals at reasonable rates.

"TV is a hard problem to solve," Eddy Cue, Apple senior vice president of Internet software and services, said in May. "One of the problems you have with a TV is you have a disparate system with a bunch of providers. There's no standards. There's a lot of rights issues."

Last week, Apple scored a deal with one notable content provider: HBO Now. Starting in April, users of the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV will be able to subscribe to the new standalone streaming service for $15 a month. The arrangement is a three-month exclusive among "new digital distributors," giving Apple a leg up on the likes of Roku and Google's Chromecast. (HBO Go is also now coming to a traditional cable provider, Cablevision, in a deal announced Monday.)

The Wall Street Journal's report appears to bolster an article by Recode last month that Apple was in early talks with programmers to offer a Web-based subscription service. Programmers had been shown demos of how the service might work, but timing and pricing were still unknown.

Not all the major networks are part of the picture, the Journal said. NBCUniversal, the owner of NBC, is said to not be included in the talks due to a conflict Apple has with Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal. The two companies were reportedly in talks last year to offer streaming TV service that would tap Comcast's broadband expertise, but those discussions were hampered by Apple reaching the conclusion that Comcast was stalling while developing its own set-top box, the Journal reported.

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