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Apple, Comcast buddying up on streaming TV service?

New report suggests the two companies are in the early stages of discussing a deal where an Apple set-top box would receive special treatment on Comcast's cables.

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The Wall Street Journal has a scoopy item out this evening suggesting that Comcast and Apple are discussing the potential for a streaming television service -- one in which Apple's set-top box would receive "special treatment" to allow it to avoid congestion.

The report, citing unnamed sources, said that the discussions are in the preliminary stages and and so could easily come acropper. But if it actually gets done, this would qualify as one of those periodic big deals that could have a major impact on the way people view TV.

Per the 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.

"The companies also differ on how deep a relationship Apple should have with Comcast's customers. Apple has proposed that users would sign on to the new device using Apple login IDs, and it is interested in controlling customer data, the people familiar with the matter said. Apple also has asked for a cut of the monthly subscription fees paid by customers, these people said."

Another potential snag, according to the WSJ: Comcast wants to keep what's described as "significant control over the relationship with customers and the data."