The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple isn’t totally ruling out a Time Warner acquisition as talks between the network and AT&T appear to be moving forward. Yesterday it was reported that AT&T is looking at the possibility of a merger with Time Warner, then today it was separately reported that the talks could be much further along than previously reported. Now the WSJ is adding that Apple is once again monitoring the situation closely and has even approached the company in the last few months…
Apple Inc. a few months ago approached Time Warner Inc. about pursuing a combination, but the discussions didn’t progress beyond a preliminary stage and none are currently under way, people familiar with the matter said Friday.
From Apple’s end, executives under Chief Executive Tim Cookwere involved in the earlier talks, and now Apple is monitoring the current situation, one of the people said.
If Apple is indeed not closing the door to a Time Warner acquisition, this wouldn’t make the first time in recent history. Back in January it was reported that Apple may want to acquire the media company to bolster its streaming TV service plans, but those plans have since been put on the shelf.
Over the summer it was again said that Apple indeed considering buying Time Warner but focused instead on investing in original content of its own. In a Hollywood Reporter profile back in July, Apple TV head Eddy Cue actually cooled the flames on rumors of Apple providing a TV service when asked about the rumored interest in Time Warner:
Whether we’re providing it or somebody else is, it really doesn’t matter to us. What we’re trying to do is build the platform that allows anybody to get content to consumers. If a Time Warner [Cable] or a DirecTV wants to offer a bundle themselves, they should do it through Apple TV and iPad and iPhone. As a matter of fact, I’m not a big fan of the skinny bundle.
But last month Apple hired a former VP of Time Warner to work on cloud services at Apple under Eddy Cue.
For its part, Apple has been rumored to be working on a number of things in the TV space including an actual TV of its own and a streaming TV service similar to Sling TV or PS Vue although both of these projects have been put on hold indefinitely.
Apple’s latest venture is said to be a universal TV guide that pulls in content from various streaming services to present a traditional TV browsing experience. Features like universal search on the new Apple TV go half-way by searching for content across multiple channels.
Apple has also promised a new single sign-on feature that unlocks multiple channels from a single content provider on iOS and tvOS, although this feature is billed as coming soon.
Apple has continued to speak openly about the broken experience of TV currently, however, even after shipping the new Apple TV with the tvOS platform. As recently as yesterday at Vanity Fair‘s annual summit of media execs, Eddy Cue has talked about the TV experience being stuck in the past.
As for the Time Warner situation, Apple’s interest is especially fascinating as reports have continuously described Apple watching the situation from a somewhat distant position.