According to Jessica Lessin, a reporter for the WSJ who has a track record for breaking tech news, Apple will soon offer a set top box that allows users to skip TV commercials. If that sounds like old news – DVRs have long been able to do this – it’s because it is. However, what is said to set Apple’s box apart from the rest of the industry, is a premium subscription that will compensate media companies for skipped commercials.
Unfortunately, details on the box, or service are scant. And it’s said that Apple execs have not only been trying to strike agreements with content networks, but with the cable providers, since both companies would be impacted by the next-gen Apple TV. Moreover, if Apple wants to become a defacto box (like many), they’ll need to have the cooperation of cable providers, especially if they want their hardware to play nice with their infrastructure.
Fan TV, who has long offered a TV app, announced their own set top box not too long ago. Instead of connecting to an existing cable box, or DVR, they’re looking to forge relationships with cable providers, who would deliver their stream over IP. And such a partnership has already been formed with Microsoft, as Time Warner will soon deliver all of their channels through the Xbox 360 (and Xbox One) to paying subscribers of the service.
There is no doubt that TV watchers are constantly seeking a way to circumvent ads and improve their TV viewing watching experience. Tivo, who has long offered consumers the ability to skip commercials, has to some degree bowed to the pressures, and offers shortened commercials when a user skips an ad.
Apple has already forged strong relationships with the content networks as they sell their shows and movies on the their iTunes store. So it stands to reason that Apple already has one foot in the door and if they so choose they could remove cable companies from the equitation since content could be delivered over a consumer’s Internet connection. And while this may sound like a bad thing for the consumer, I assure you it is not, since it would force cable companies to rethink pricing and perhaps even adjust their hardware offerings, which to date has been fairly antiquated in feel and speed.