Apple subscription TV service said to face further delay

Web-based TV service won't debut until at least next year because of a lack of progress in licensing programming, Bloomberg reports.

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TV viewers will have to wait until at least 2016 for Apple's much-hinted-at subscription TV service. CNET

Cord-cutters expecting to get their movies and television shows over an Apple-administered TV service this year will reportedly have to wait until at least next year.

The much-hinted-at subscription TV service was widely expected to be unveiled next month, but sources tell Bloomberg that plans for the September debut have been scrapped because of a lack of progress in securing licensing deals for programming from content providers such as TV networks. The tech giant also lacks the network capacity necessary to support the service, Bloomberg's sources said.

The Web-based service, which was previously expected to be announced in June, would deliver programming across the Internet, like Dish's Sling TV product and Sony's upcoming service. The Wall Street Journal reported in March that 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.

The Journal's 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.

Apple representatives declined to comment on the report.

Delivering TV programming to viewers is widely expected to be the next step in Apple's entertainment strategy, a key component to Apple's overall goal of creating a stable of products and services that keep consumers from straying to competitors such as Google. The company revamped its music strategy in May with the addition of streaming-music service Apple Music and has been working hard to attract more users and retailers to its Apple Pay, the mobile-wallet platform Apple launched in October.

The delay underscores the daunting challenges that even a major player like Apple faces when introducing a video service that seeks to upend a crowded industry already dominated by cable companies, satellite TV providers and even streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. Because of that competition, content providers can hold out for better terms.

Apple has hinted for quite some time that it's working on a more complete, Net-based 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."

Licensing negotiations with programming providers has proved a stumbling block for others hoping to create alternatives to traditional TV. Earlier this month, the developers behind the media-streaming dongle Matchstick announced the cancellation of their unreleased product, citing the high cost of securing content deals.

An Apple subscription service was expected to make its debut at a scheduled product launch in San Francisco around September 9. (Apple has not yet announced an exact date for the event.)

Along with the introduction of new iPhones and iPads, Apple is expected to use the event to reveal a new Apple TV streaming box, the current version of which has gone three years without a refresh. In March, Apple cut the price on its current streaming-media box from $99 to $69, signaling that the company may be clearing out old inventory ahead of a newer version coming down the pipeline.