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Apple TV set chatter heats up with rumored content talks

Apple's rumored to have been in talks with content provider Epix to bring content to the Apple TV and potentially even its TV set.


Apple is once again said to be talking up a TV set when trying to ink deals with content providers.

The latest target is said to be Epix, a joint venture of Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM. According to Reuters, the movie channel has been in talks with Apple to bring its content to Apple's digital stores.

The interesting tidbit, Reuters says, is that Apple's been pitching a deal that would bring the content beyond its $99 set top box, and to "upcoming devices that stream content." That could be Apple's TV set, a product that hasn't been announced, but is largely expected to be sometime this year, Reuters suggests.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment, saying the report was "speculation."

Epix is already available on a wide variety of devices, including Apple's iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, but like HBO GO -- and unlike Hulu Plus and Netflix -- it requires authentication from a supporting service provider. I.e., a user has to already subscribe to a cable or satellite channel.

In August, 2010 Epix and Netflix reached a multiyear dealthat would bring Epix content to Netflix 90 days after it first appeared on pay TV and on demand channels. Reuters notes that that deal, which Netflix pays $200 million a year for, is up in September.

Apple is expected to make full use of its existing content deals, while possibly introducing new ones that would give would-be cord cutters a way to ditch their existing cable service to watch TV programming. Some analysts have even suggested Apple will offer a pay-by-channel model.

According to a story in The Hollywood Reporter in March, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs approached Les Moonves, CEO of CBS (the entertainment conglomerate and parent company of CNET)to pitch him on the idea for a subscription-video service seven months before his death. Moonves ended up shooting down the idea, reportedly telling Jobs "You know more than me about 99 percent of things. I know more about the television business."