Apple is in talks with Comcast about teaming up for a streaming-television service that would use an Apple set-top box and get special treatment on Comcast’s cables to ensure it bypasses congestion on the Web, reports the WS Journal today.
Apple’s goal would be to ensure users don’t see hiccups in the service or buffering that can take place while streaming Web video, making its video the same quality as Comcast’s TV transmissions to normal set-top boxes.
Apple’s apparently wants to allow users to stream live and on-demand TV programming and digital-video recordings stored in the “cloud,” effectively taking the place of a traditional cable set-top box.
The companies differ on how deep a relationship Apple should have with Comcast’s customers.
Apple wants users would sign on to the new device using Apple login IDs, and control customer data, according to the WSJ report. Apple also wants a cut of the monthly subscription fees.
Comcast wants to retain significant control over the relationship with customers and the data.
Furthermore, Apple must acquire significant TV programming rights from media companies. The price Apple has to pay to acquire rights could cause the service to be priced higher than traditional pay-TV service.
Apple and Comcast aren’t close to an agreement, said one person familiar with the talks.
In February Netflix and Comcast announced a “mutually beneficial interconnection agreement” that provided “a high-quality Netflix video experience” for Comcast subscribers “for years to come.” Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed although the WSJ indicates that Netflix paid for the privilege.
This was allowed because the net neutrality obligations cover only the “last mile,” the path from Comcast facilities to consumer homes, notes ArsTechnica.
The move could spell trouble for other video streamers like Hulu and YouTube/Google who could begin to see their video performance drop on Comcast as the service “prioritizes” its own (and now Netflix’s) video traffic ahead of providers that don’t pay the toll.
Comcast prioritizes data packets for its own Xfinity streaming TV and Video On Demand (VOD) services ahead of competing video streaming packets.