For one of Apple's friends, the computer maker's reported TV streaming service is a foregone conclusion.
Time Warner Chief Executive Jeffrey Bewkes said he's "pretty confident" Apple will launch a service that streams TV over the Internet. Bewkes made the remark Wednesday during a conference call to discuss Time Warner's earnings.
"We think Apple is very forward-thinking about television," he said, noting the computer maker's deal with Time Warner as the launch partner of streaming service HBO Now. "It's no surprise to anyone that Apple would be interested in launching a TV product."
Though beaten to the punch by services like Dish's Sling TV and Sony's PlayStation Vue, Apple has been pursuing the multichannel streaming concept for years. Until recently, traditional TV companies that own the rights to live programming resisted giving up their hold over viewers who want to watch TV as it airs. As more consumers watch video over the Internet, programmers have started loosening the reins on those rights, allowing services like Sling and Vue to launch.
Time Warner and Apple have close ties through the deal that made Apple and its devices the exclusive digital platform for launching HBO's online-only service earlier this month. HBO chief Richard Plepler said on the call that HBO "couldn't be more pleased" with that partnership.
"We got out of the gate very fast with Apple," he said. "We see a lot of momentum there."
Plepler also indicated that consumers will soon have more options to sign up for HBO Now.
"We are having very productive conversations with our traditional partners," he said, referring to pay-TV companies. "By of the year we will have deals with them for HBO Now as well."
Traditional pay-TV distributors like cable and satellite companies have resisted online-only options like HBO Now, since they could encourage customers to scale back their pay-TV subscriptions -- their core business. Right now, regional cable company Cablevision is the only pay-TV provider that has joined forces with HBO to allow its Internet service customers to sign up for HBO Now.
Executives on the call also said Time Warner is in the process of renegotiating its deal with Amazon that puts past seasons of HBO shows like "The Sopranos" and "Boardwalk Empire" on its Prime Instant Video streaming service.