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Summary:

Apple TV got live, HD streaming of MLB and NBA games with an update yesterday. This shows huge potential for bringing live TV to the platform, but it also shows that Apple could offer specific, targeted content to audiences in a way that cable companies can’t.

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Apple TV got live, HD streaming of MLB and NBA games with a software update yesterday. Ryan Lawler thinks this shows huge potential for bringing live TV to the platform, and I agree. But it also shows that Apple could offer specific, targeted content to audiences in a way that cable companies can’t.

MLB and NBA on the Apple TV are basically single-focus channels. They deliver exactly the content a user is looking for, and nothing more. This is already something Apple has experience with through the App Store. HGTVtoGO, for instance, provides on-demand shows from the home improvement and real estate-focused specialty channel for iPad owners to stream. Making similar apps available for the Apple TV would offer exactly what users are looking for in a cable alternative.

Right now, if you wanted a specialty channel focused on home renovations, you’d have to buy a package of various bundled channels, some of which might interest you, but most of which probably don’t. Cable companies often bundle some duds in with the good stuff to justify boosting prices. If Apple can provide app “channels” that offer users complete, customizable a-la-carte content selection, it could make much more of a dent in the living room entertainment market segment than it currently does.

Apple’s already paved the way for this kind of software on the Apple TV, both technically and by making it appear not much of a stretch to content providers from what they currently offer. Apple’s mobile devices offer users the chance to output content to the big screen, and the new HD mirroring feature introduced with the iPad narrows the gulf between apps on a mobile screen and apps on a TV screen further still.

If Apple can offer content providers a revenue model that looks better than what they currently get from cable providers (and they should be able to provide both paid and ad-supported systems, as they do in iOS), we might see more speciality content beyond sports join the fray very soon. I know all I need is an Apple TV Dog Whisperer app and I can leave behind my cable subscription without ever looking back.

  1. The iPad could potentially become the be all and end all, essentially doing everything you need – games console, movie player, music etc.

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  2. I started this comment, last night; but, the numbers still left me where I am. Briefly, I’m a sports fan, “proper” football, e.g., soccer.

    I pay DirecTV ~$30/month for their whole sports package + Fox Soccer Plus to access matches in England, France, Germany, Italy, European tournaments, Latin America – and grouse about the cost as much as anyone else.

    But, being able to record and/or watch live about 70 matches/month – even more in a week like this one with Champions League/Europa League matches mid-week – works out to less than 50¢ a match.

    I doubt if anyone will be offering PPV live for that kind of price.

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  3. I don’t know, I think the base system of ala carte distribution is already underway. You have 3 distinct tiers forming right now, and frankly all three can stand together and compliment each other as they all work for different interests and needs, though they still need to expand and grow and there is one additonal tier to come I think, but I don’t think it’ll be PPV per se.

    The current 3 models that work well together.

    The HuluPlus model. Hulu plus is ad and subscription driven making it ideal for streaming TV shows. It doesn’t work well with movies. But I can see the day where most networks make their shows available to services like Hulu for streaming one week after it’s initial airing up until it’s DVD/Bluray release date. Yes I know for the consumer it’d be nice to just stay with this model all the way through but STudio’s like additional revenue and DVD/Blue ray provides that.

    2nd Model, the Amazon Video on Demand, Vudu, Applie etc. Content becomes available for rent or purchase of streaming rights day and date with DVD/Bluray release.

    #rd model. Netflix-Gets content for streaming roughly 1-6 months after DVD/Bluray release for streaming at roughly the same cost as now.

    The three tiers provide the best overall profits for the studios and the best over all value for the consumers depending on their viewing habits and desires.

    The 4th step, the one that is missing, is for a provider like Apple TV or any of the Networked TV’s or Blurays for apps that allow you to subscribe to a channel you normally get through your tv. Instead of paying a cable company 70.00 a month for 200 channels, maybe 4 of which you watch. you pay between 3.99 and 5.99 a month for only the channels you want. And here’s the kicker, apps could work out deals with networks and broadcasters from all over the world so if you want to watch BBC1 instead of BBC America, subscribe to it via you app.

    One can dream.

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    1. It is rather exciting. This is something I though about last year when MLB.TV came to the PS3. If they could do games, why not stream their MLB channel as well for a small fee? And then why not other networks like AMC or FX? I imagined them all lined up along with MLB.TV, Netflix, VUDU, and HULU Plus in my video section of my PS3. Hopefully with something more mainstream like AppleTV and especially “apps” this kind of thing can catch on.

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