Local Content Deals to Delay Apple's Streaming TV Plans

Apple most likely won't launch its rumored streaming television service this fall thanks to content licensing deals for local content. The company wants to include local TV stations as part of its service, but swinging the deals is proving to be a difficult task.

Apple's streaming TV service may be delayed over local TV station dealsApple's streaming TV service may be delayed over local TV station deals

Offering local shows, such as news broadcasts, from ABC, CBS, and NBC would make Apple's streaming TV service more attractive to potential cable TV cord cutters, although getting those deals in place is more complicated than working out a contract with the parent networks. In many cases, Apple will have to sign deals at the local level because the major broadcasters don't actually own most of the stations and instead offer shows through affiliate deals.

Apple isn't the first company to go after local affiliate deals. ABC, for example, spent months to get just eight of its own affiliates on board with its Watch ABC app for the iPhone and iPad. If Apple can get nation-wide deals in place, it will have managed something the major networks haven't been able to pull off.

Apple is gunning to take on the big name cable and satellite TV providers with its own service that gives viewers more flexibility in the channels they receive, and offers that content at a more affordable price. Without local content, it'll be much more difficult for Apple to convince many TV viewers to give up their Comcast and Dish subscriptions.

The big unveiling was expected to come next month during Apple's annual Worldwide Developer Conference, although industry executives speaking with Re/code don't think that's likely to happen. They say Apple doesn't have any TV programmers for its service, and without those deals in place, any announcement would be fairly pointless.

Apple isn't commenting on its plans, so there isn't any official word—or even confirmation—on what the company has in store for the television market. Since Apple likes to disrupt markets, there won't likely be any significant announcement until all the pieces are in place to make that possible. For now, that means Apple's streaming TV plans will stay in the rumor and speculation camp even though it looks like that's exactly what the company is working on.