Moonves: Apple, CBS close to streaming deal

CBS Corp. is close to agreeing a programming deal that would likely see shows such as CSI and NCIS streaming on an Apple-operated paid-for live video platform.

Les_Moonves“Apple is having conversations with everyone about doing their own streaming services,” CBS Corp. CEO and president Les Moonves said in an interview on Bloomberg TV.

“We have had those conversations, as have the other networks. Do I think something will happen? Probably, but I do not know when.”

Consumer electronics giant Apple had planned to launch a live online TV service this year, but has pushed plans back after struggling to agree terms with distributors. The Hollywood studios and their broadcast counterparts are thought to be those playing the hardest ball.

CBS, The Walt Disney Company, 21st Century Fox and others have been happy to position themselves as content suppliers to the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, though market watchers still question whether linear programmers can exist alongside on-demand platforms in the future.

Apple, meanwhile, has long been expected to launch a video service that would complement its Apple TV set-top boxes. Industry sources reacted positively to news of the firm’s talks with CBS.

“Apple’s commitment to becoming an experience syndication partner is savvy,” said Keith Zubchevich, chief strategy officer of data analytics specialist Conviva. “The entry of Netflix and Facebook into these kinds of discussions shows how quickly the game is changing, and that we are on the verge of a fundamental change in the way consumers access premium video content.

“As Apple continues plans to provide a gateway to premium content without taking on the burden of delivery itself, those partners will gain from new distribution opportunities, but will need to place significant emphasis on managing the quality of the experience delivered. Audiences flock to high quality experiences, rejecting other options that disappoint: Apple and its partners will need to deliver experience excellence to realise their goals.”