One of the worst-kept secrets in the industry has been Apple’s determination to get into the TV business. The company has been working for years trying to put together an online TV service, hoping to offer 25 channels for between $30 and $40 monthly. That project seemed to have been put on hold when AAPL and broadcasters couldn’t reach an agreement on price.
But Alphabet has just succeeded where Apple failed.
YouTube TV — live TV from over 40 providers including the big networks for $35 per month — is now official.
YouTube TV Takes on Cable
YouTube TV was announced on Tuesday. Launching “soon” in the U.S., this is Google’s skinny TV bundle for cord cutters. The four major networks are onboard. So is Walt Disney Co’s (NYSE:DIS) ESPN, along with regional sports networks. Google is also including some content from its premium YouTube Red service. All told, there will be over 40 different content providers — not bad for $35 per month.
Subscribers get unlimited cloud DVR storage, search powered by Google’s AI, six user accounts (three streams can be active simultaneously) and the ability to watch YouTube TV on a variety of devices including smartphones, tablets, PCs and Google Chromecast.
In other word, this is pretty much what Apple has been struggling to release.
YouTubeTV is Eerily Similar to Apple’s Television Plans
Apple has to have been watching Google’s YouTube TV announcement with dismay. Its rival beat it to the punch with the streaming TV bundle it had envisioned offering with the Apple TV.
What makes it even more galling is how close YouTube TV is to what AAPL was negotiating.
In May 2015, AAPL and CBS Corporation (NYSE:CBS) were in talks about a subscription Apple television streaming service, but money was reportedly a sticking point. In December of that year, CBS CEO Les Moonves confirmed to Business Insider that his network had been in talks with Apple, and were close to settling on a monthly price to charge consumers. Moonves was throwing around $35 — exactly the price that YouTube TV is charging.
Apple balked. Apparently Google was waiting in the wings.
Where Does This Leave AAPL and Its TV Strategy?
At this point, Apple’s entire television strategy seems to be struggling.