Apple streaming TV service rumors are back, and more credible than ever

Apple's long-rumored subscription TV service is reportedly back on track and will launch this fall.

The Apple streaming service will launch with roughly 25 channels, including broadcast networks such as ABC, CBS, and Fox, according to the Wall Street Journal's sources. Some media executives think Apple will charge between $30 and $40 per month.

It's unclear what other channels will be part of the bundle. Apple is negotiating with several media companies including Disney (which owns CBS ABC and ESPN) and Fox (which owns FX).

NBCUniversal is reportedly not on board due to a feud between Apple and NBC parent company Comcast. The two companies were reportedly working together on a streaming video service last year, but Apple eventually felt that was being strung along by Comcast as the cable giant worked on its own TV overhaul, called Xfinity X1.

If all goes to plan, Apple may announce the service in June, and launch it in September. It would work across iOS-powered devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, but there's no word on a web version or Mac support.

The story behind the story: The rumor mill has been talking about a subscription-based Apple TV service for at least five years. But the networks were always wary about cutting into the lucrative cable revenue stream and giving Apple too much power, as the music industry did with iTunes.

Those obstacles seem more surmountable now. Traditional pay TV subscriptions have stagnated as people turn to cheaper streaming video services, and the networks have realized they're leaving money on the table. CBS President and CEO Les Moonves recently said that the “days of the 500-channel universe are over,” and people are “slicing it and dicing it in different ways.”

And if Apple moves into streaming video, it already has plenty of competition, not just from Netflix and Amazon, but from new mini-bundles such as Sling TV and Sony's upcoming Playstation Vue. Instead of giving Apple all the power, networks are now free to shop around. If there was ever a time when Apple subscription video rumors seemed credible, this is it.

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