Talking tech since 2003

Just weeks after adding HBO and ESPN as content partners on its Apple TV, Apple may be nearing a deal with Time Warner Cable to add live TV to its “hobby” streaming box. This news, first leaked to and reported by Bloomberg, would turn the Apple TV into an Internet cable box of sorts for Time Warner Cable. It’s big news not just because of the new content coming to the Apple TV, but also because many believed Apple was working on a way to upend the traditional cable TV industry.

Time Warner Cable on the Roku. Image credit: CNET
Time Warner Cable on the Roku. Image credit: CNET

Should this news turn out to be true, this isn’t so much upending as remixing — adding a little bit of the Apple experience to traditional cable TV. And it’s not as though this is a service that will aid cord cutters in any way. There isn’t an experiment in alternative delivery methods like Cox’s flareWatch. Those who want live TV channels on their Apple TV will still have to remain firmly in the grasp of Time Warner Cable. But the ability to access live television on the Apple TV will certainly appeal to those who want cable in multiple rooms without the monthly charge of additional HD cable boxes.

This wouldn’t be the Apple TV’s first foray into live TV — the little box can access previously-mentioned ESPN as well as Sky News — but it’s the first partnership that Apple has struck with a major cable company to provide multiple channels.

For Time Warner Cable, this is an extension of what the company has already done on the Roku and plans to do on the Xbox 360 later this summer. It’s a refreshing bit of news out of an industry that, despite all of the innovation around it, hasn’t been in a big hurry to change. As Cox tries out its Internet-only package, and Time Warner Cable and Verizon allow live TV to escape their standard-issue cable boxes, Comcast is left standing as both the largest cable company in the country and the only one not making any news.

It’ll be interesting to see how the service is implemented on the Apple TV, and even more interesting to hear some details surrounding the deal. Who benefits more — does the availability of a Time Warner Cable app help sell Apple TVs? Or does being on the Apple TV entice more customers to sign up for Time Warner Cable? From where I’m standing, it seems like a mutually beneficial partnership that, when completed, could help us put some distance between live TV and the unfriendly cable boxes we’re all still dealing with.

I’d love to get your reactions to this potential deal. Who benefits more, and do you think it’ll change the landscape of TV at all? Leave us your thoughts below.

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