Apple to launch streaming TV service

Apple is reportedly in talks with programmers to offer about 25 channels, including CBS, ABC, Fox and FX, on an online streaming television service planned for later this year.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the service, which could be announced as early as June and launch in September, would cost from $30 to $40 a month. It will work with all iOS devices, including Apple TV, and come with an on-demand library.

“Everybody has been waiting for some sort of product like this from Apple,” CNETsenior editor Scott Stein told CBS News.

“For a while, people have wanted to cord cut in the sense that they feel they are paying too much for cable or they don’t have the same selections,” he said. “You already see the influence of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon in terms of being appealing to people but also bringing in new content, so I think it’s a very big deal.”

Apple has talked for some time about creating a TV subscription service as part of co-founder Steve Jobs’ dream of altering the way people use their TVs.

The latest news appears to build on the announcement last week that Apple would cut the price of Apple TV and that it partnered with HBO to host its streaming HBO Now service starting next month.

Still, the plans of Apple aren’t without challenges. Its streaming service would enter a crowded market as companies search for ways to win over some of the 49 million cable customers who are hankering for cheaper alternatives.

Among them is Dish Network’s Sling TV, which launched last month. Customers pay just $20 a month for a selection of channels that includes ESPN, TNT, CNN, HGTV and the Disney Channel.

“You also see PlayStation launching its own TV service imminently,” Stein said.

Of course, while $15 a month for HBO, $20 a month for Sling and $40 a month for Apple TV streaming all sound like good deals compared with the massive cable bills many customers are faced with now, it should be remembered that you get fewer channels and still have to pay for Internet service, which may be more expensive outside of a bundled deal.

And so while cable companies are directly threatened by new offerings, they actually could see some advantages in all these streaming services coming online.

“In the end, you still have to use broadband and a lot of these cable companies are providing that,” Stein said. “It’s kind of like cell phones where you are talking on minutes and then switching over to using data plans. I think the equation will get modified so you will be emphasizing broadband services more than your TV package.”