According to a report from Recode, Apple wants TV networks to provide their own streams for the company's upcoming internet TV service, which will compete against the likes of Sling TV and Sony's PlayStation Vue. Under this approach, broadcasters would foot costs for the serious infrastructure needed on the back end of Apple's unannounced service, with Cupertino putting its focus on the hardware and software (user experience) side of things.
Apple has yet to reveal the new product, but Recode says the company is hoping to launch by next fall. Eddie Cue is handling negotiations with potential TV partners, and a previous report said the company is aiming to start off with around 25 channels — on par with Dish's Sling service.
TV partners are hesitant to sign on
As Recode points out, this isn't radically different from the "channels" on Apple TV today; rather than have Apple handle everything, most major networks push their own streams to the set-top box. But a true internet TV service (with 24/7 live, linear broadcasts) is obviously grander in scope than what Apple has on the market right now, and executives have apparently been hesitant about going along with Apple's vision. In particular, it's been rumored that Apple and Comcast have had a falling out of sorts during negotiations.
Apple's not alone in going with the "stick to what you know" approach. For its standalone subscription service, HBO Now, HBO recruited the help of MLB Advanced Media, which handles all the heavy lifting. MLB's technology division also powers WWE Network, the 24/7 pro wrestling service.
Apple could also be pursuing this path so that whenever its service does finally launch, internet service providers like Comcast won't easily be able to target it or slow down streaming speeds. Doing so could cause problems for the videos that Fox, ABC, and others serve to internet users elsewhere. But nothing's going to happen until Apple can line up solid content deals. Sling TV has ESPN, Disney, and soon HBO; PlayStation Vue has its own large catalog of live programming. No matter how nice the coming service might be to use, Apple knows acquiring the shows people want are just as important.