Thursday, November 03, 2011, 07:40 pm PT (10:40 pm ET)
CBS rejected Apple TV streaming service offer over revenue splitCBS boss Les Moonves revealed in an earnings call on Thursday that his company had been approached by Apple about a potential streaming TV service that would share ad revenues, but the network declined to strike a deal because it prefers to license its content.
As noted by GigaOm, Moonves, who serves as the company's CEO, made the comments in response to an analyst question on whether CBS would pursue partnerships with "success-based or non-guaranteed" streaming players.
"We've even been against joining Apple TV, which was an advertiser split," SeekingAlpha reported him as saying.
With the rise of online content, CBS has stuck to a strategy of upfront license fees for syndication, the report noted. That approach led the network to keep its distance from Hulu, a joint subscription venture by NBC, Fox and ABC. CBS did, however, recently agree to allow Hulu to air reruns from the CW network, a joint venture with Time Warner. It has also reached similar agreements with Netflix and Amazon.
The licensing route appears to be paying off for CBS for now, as Moonves said on Thursday that the network is already receiving "hundred of millions of dollars" annually from online streaming agreements with possibly even more deals to come. The executive is confident that online viewership will continue to bring in significant money over the years.
Rumors of an Apple subscription TV service have existed for years, but CBS' comments come as the first public confirmation of it. The network reportedly considered a proposal from Apple as early as 2009.
Apple has gradually been adding channels and partners to its Apple TV set-top box. A recent software update added Wall Street Journal Live and National Hockey League content in addition to new features such as Photo Stream and AirPlay Mirroring.
Recent indications have pointed to an upcoming Apple television set with an innovative interface. The late Steve Jobs reportedly told biographer Walter Isaacson that he had "cracked" the concept for a "simple and elegant" connected TV.
Jobs' comments have reignited speculation that Apple will enter the TV market. The New York Times noted late last month that, according to sources, such a device is definitely coming.
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