Apple's streaming TV service might not be imminent after all

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Apple’s long-rumored streaming video service could be slipping away once again, as the company reportedly struggles to get TV programmers on board.

Apple wanted to launch the service in the fall with roughly 25 channels, priced around $30 to $40 per month, unnamed industry sources said in March. A new report from Re/code says Apple has hit a couple of roadblocks.

The biggest hurdle involves local broadcasts from networks such as ABC, CBS, and Fox. Apple is reportedly intent on carrying these networks, but the negotiations for streaming can get complicated because the networks don’t own all their local stations. Some markets rely on affiliates or a franchise system, which leads to rights issues and the need for new infrastructure in certain cases. For these reasons, even the networks themselves can’t easily offer live TV streaming in every market.

And while an earlier Wall Street Journal report said Apple was negotiating with several media companies, including Disney and Fox, Re/code’s sources say Apple hasn’t actually signed up any TV providers yet. For that reason, a rumored announcement of the service at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June seems unlikely.

The new report doesn’t say when Apple’s TV service might launch, but notes that TV executives are optimistic it’ll arrive eventually.

Why this matters: We’ve heard some form of this story for the last five years, but the difference now is that TV programmers are starting to look beyond the traditional cable bundle to alternative services such as Sling TV and Playstation Vue. Still, those services have made it to market by forgoing broadcast networks or offering them in just a handful of markets. Although it’s possible to watch local channels with an antenna, that’s probably a clunkier solution than Apple wants. Once again, the company’s insistence on a well-rounded product means waiting a bit longer to get it.

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