If Apple is struggling to push through the “last mile” of structuring deals with regional broadcasters, it’s likely a clear sign that it’s not an easy task.
Rumors of an Apple TV subscription service giving users access to broadcast television via the device have been floating around for a while now, but as of late the only news has been delays. When thinking about the massive technical hurdle involved in wrangling hundreds of local network stations, it becomes clear how difficult getting a new subscription service launched can be. There isn’t currently a way to scale such an effort, meaning it’s likely thousands of phone calls, emails and back and forth communication at an individual station level to get the deals done.
Local broadcasters likely don’t need to strike some magical deal with Apple to see any major benefit as most local broadcast channels are already available via traditional bunny ears for cord cutters. In other words, this type of agreement seems far more beneficial for Apple in helping them sell Apple TV as opposed to each individual broadcaster, at least in the short term. Certainly the early adopters will usher in a new wave of less traditional viewership that will grow over time, which will likely provide the incentive to hop on board with Apple as part of a long term audience development strategy.
Imagine the challenge of having to negotiate pricing and contracts with hundreds of broadcasters, all with their own viewership metrics, value and demands; an affiliate station in Akron, Ohio is going to be an entirely separate deal compared to one in Los Angeles, California, there is no one size fits all.
So for the forthcoming September 9th Apple event, a new device is expected, but there likely won’t be any word on the subscription service.