Tech Industry

Apple said to be eyeing HBO, Viacom, ESPN as TV partners

The company is reportedly hoping to ink some deals with content providers to deliver a television.

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Apple is in negotiations with entertainment companies to change the way customers interact with its long-rumored television, according to a new report.

Apple has been holding talks with ESPN, HBO, Viacom, and several other major networks to ink deals that would see those firms bring their programming to apps on its rumored television, the Quartz news site reported on Thursday, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the iPhone maker's plans.

Although it's not clear exactly what Apple has planned, some of Quartz's sources say that Apple is trying to create a pay-TV service that would include content from several different networks. Apple's customers would apparently pay a fee to access its service, and thus have the ability to watch programming delivered by networks. The company would ostensibly turn into a cable-TV provider, but use the Internet to deliver that service, Quartz says.

Rumors have been swirling for years now suggesting Apple will launch a television. Analysts have predicted that the set would come with advanced screen technology, access to apps, gesture control, and a host of other features. The idea of an Apple television was first floated by late co-founder Steve Jobs, who said he had "cracked" the code on delivering an appealing TV experience.

Since then, predictions have been made on when Apple would launch its television. Some have said 2013, others have said 2014. So far, however, Apple hasn't confirmed it's even working on a set.

Similarly, Apple would not confirm to Quartz that it's holding discussions with media companies for content to be delivered to a television. However, ESPN confirmed to Quartz that discussions are ongoing, though they are "very, very exploratory in nature."

HBO told Quartz that it has no desire to change its current business model and deliver programming to Apple in a different way.

Apple's chief issue now, however, might be the television industry's complexity. According to Quartz, Apple is exploring everything from setting up the aforementioned pay-TV service to becoming a cable provider all its own by delivering programming over the Internet to partnering with cable companies. Whether the cable companies would actually want to partner with Apple, however, is unknown.

Quartz's sources didn't have a solid grip on exactly what will play out with Apple, but based on their comments, it appears Apple still has a ways to go to get what it wants in the TV space.