Time Warner Cable is “nearing” a deal with Apple to provide access to cable TV through the Apple TV set-top box, similar to the way the operator is working with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Roku, according to a report.
An agreement between TWC, the No. 2 U.S. cable operator, and Apple is expected within the next few months, Bloomberg reported, citing anonymous sources.
Apple, as part of its effort to cut deals with pay TV operators and media companies, has hired Pete Distad, who has been Hulu’s senior VP of marketing and distribution, according to the report.
Reps for Apple, Time Warner Cable and Hulu declined to comment.
Apple previously tried to break into the TV biz by seeking deals with media companies to offer current-season content directly to consumers. But the consumer-electronics giant now appears to be willing to work with operators and programmers to support the existing pay-TV ecosystem: Last month, Apple added access to HBO Go and WatchESPN — TV Everywhere services available only to subscribers of participating pay-TV providers — for users of Apple TV set-tops.
Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable last week announced a deal with Microsoft to provide access to up to 300 live TV channels through the popular Xbox 360 videogame console within subscribers’ homes. The cable company also offers the TWC TV service on Apple iPhone and iPad, select Android devices, PCs, Macs and Roku set-tops and plans to provide access to VOD titles on Samsung Smart TVs later this summer, with live TV available later in the year.
However, TWC’s video subscribers must still lease at least one operator-supplied set-top or DVR to be able to access TV programming on other devices.
Apple says it has sold more than 13 million of the $99 Internet-connected set-top boxes to date, about half of which shipped last year. The Apple TV devices have been a “learning experience” for bigger plans the company has to reinvent the TV category, CEO Tim Cook said at an industry conference in May.