Apple is reportedly working on a subscription model that would open television viewing through iTunes - sort of. We're not talking about some sort of service tied to the Apple TV product or even a standalone TV with iTunes built-in (at least not yet.) The Media Memo blog today cited several unnamed sources who say that Apple is pitching the TV networks on a subscription model - though no deals have yet been reported.
Currently, television shows on iTunes are available for purchase, either by the episode or the full season. This model, from what I can tell, would allow users who pay $30 per month for a subscription to watch them without "buying" them.
Sure, the $30 subscription rate is far cheaper than monthly cable or satellite bills. But that doesn't mean the cable or satellite folks should be running scared just yet. When iTunes first made the leap into video programming on iTunes, Disney was the first to jump on board. The others followed, but not right away. Today, the programming lineup looks much better - but surely, Apple would have to cut new deals on a different distribution and revenue models with the networks.
Would the networks be on board with a model like that? It's hard to say. I can't imagine they'd want to disrupt relationships they already have in place with the big cable and satellite providers. But at the same time, it's hard to ignore the influences of not only the programming being streamed over the Internet itself, but more importantly Apple, a powerhouse with a history of dominating and accelerating the growth of digital media in a "legal" marketplace.
For now, this subscription model chatter is all just rumor. No one, including Apple, has confirmed it. But I don't put it past Apple. It sounds like something Steve Jobs and company consider. I also trust the reporting and sourcing of Media Memo's Peter Kafka, so that makes it a bit easier to swallow.
Plus, it's Apple - which, of course, means the rumor mill kicks into high gear again.