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TV industry nervous about impact of apps on cable subscriptions

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A New York Times article reports on how the TV industry is worried about the impact of mobile apps on its traditional revenue streams.

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The TV industry is stifling development of apps for the living room screen because of fears of cannibalizing its traditional revenue streams. That's the takeaway from a New York Times piece on the issue — most TV executives are cagy on the subject, and those that consider apps the future of TV reportedly refuse to speak about it in public as the idea of disrupting standard cable subscriptions too sensitive to touch. News Corp's chief digital officer Jon Miller is unsure on what the model will end up as:

"The question that hasn't yet been answered is whether television viewing will consist of a single app that mimics the pay TV bundle or a series of different apps that together form a content experience."

It's that latter option that has the industry worried, as the ability to pick and choose individual apps would mean freeing customers from having to buy full cable packages with multiple channels. While there are a few apps for mobile devices currently available, companies have been largely reticent to introduce them for devices such as the Apple TV or Roku players. The ideal model for them would be a single app that offers access to a similar product as a cable experience — the excuse offered by Matt Strauss at Comcast's digital division is "You download all these apps, and then you get app fatigue." It looks like it might take a major shakeup of the industry to convince executives otherwise.