The Daily Telegraph reported this week that Apple and British Telecom (BT) are in talks over a partnered push into pay-TV. Quoting unnamed sources, the report says early discussions involve a deal that would make BT’s EE mobile brand a major distributor of Apple TV boxes. EE would offer these boxes, pre-loaded with apps including BT Sport, to its broadband customers. BT would get extra customers for its own pay-TV channel, while Apple would not only benefit from extra sales of the Apple TV, but would also have a larger audience once it’s ready to move ahead with its own subscription television service. BT’s EE subsidiary has a long-standing relationship with Apple in relation to the iPhone and is used by BT as a proving ground for new initiatives – its customers are typically younger and more technologically savvy than those of the BT brand.
There have been several media reports recently about Apple’s long-rumored plans to launch its own pay-TV service, with one report suggesting that Apple was aiming to compete head-on with Netflix, with a business that could generate $4bn-plus by 20215. Apple has also been spending significantly on creating content and was in September reportedly shopping for movie deals at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Apple already has a similar deal to the proposed BT one in place in Switzerland with its pay-TV telecom provider, Salt.