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Comcast, Apple may join up on TV service

Tue., March 25, 2014

Tech giant looking to expand offerings

PHILADELPHIA – Comcast Corp., which inked a deal last month with streaming service Netflix Inc., is now talking with Apple Inc. about advancing that company’s long-cherished dream of entering the streaming TV business in a big way, according to sources and a published report.

The recent Comcast-Apple discussions are considered very preliminary.

Apple, manufacturer of the iPhone and the iPad, also is speaking with programming companies about acquiring additional entertainment or news content. Apple TV’s current content includes free movies, TV reruns and music.

The talks’ dual track suggests that the Cupertino, Calif., tech icon is getting more serious about the television business as Comcast, the nation’s largest residential-Internet provider, faces regulatory reviews of its proposed $45.2 billion deal for Time Warner Cable.

A combined Comcast-Time Warner Cable could control one-third of the nation’s broadband market, and its network would reach almost 60 percent of U.S. homes, Buckingham Research Group analyst James Ratcliffe said Monday. He viewed a potential deal with Apple as “broadly positive for Comcast.”

Any loss of Comcast cable-TV customers to an Apple TV service would likely be erased by higher broadband revenues at Comcast, Ratcliffe said.

Apple had previously been talking with Time Warner Cable, discussions apparently suspended during takeover speculation. Apple has periodically spoken with Comcast over the years.

A new Apple TV service could take one of two forms, multiple sources said: an Apple set-top box that costs about $99 and delivers the TV service of Comcast or other cable-TV providers, or an Apple set-top box delivering Apple’s own TV service over the Internet.

Comcast itself has blurred the lines between traditional cable-TV and Internet-based video with its X1 set-top box and cloud-based channel guide.

Comcast and Apple had no comment Monday.


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