The WSJ on Apple’s ‘Hard-Charging’ Negotiations With TV Networks

Shalini Ramachandran and Daisuke Wakabayashi, reporting for the WSJ:

Some people close to the talks say Apple was reluctant to share important details, including how subscribers would navigate the channel menu. Comcast’s Mr. Roberts didn’t see Apple’s proposed user interface.

“How about you sketch it on the back of this napkin?” Apple was asked at one meeting, say former Time Warner Cable executives. An Apple official replied that the software would be “better than anything you’ve ever had.”

Of course Apple wasn’t going to show Comcast the interface. They didn’t show the iPhone to AT&T (then Cingular) back in 2006, either. And the fact that these TV executives are now talking to the news media about it shows why. Entertainment industry executives have notoriously loose lips.

Mr. Cue is also known for a hard-nosed negotiating style. One cable-industry executive sums up Mr. Cue’s strategy as saying: “We’re Apple.”

In 2013, Mr. Cue met with Mr. Britt, Time Warner Inc. CEO Jeff Bewkes and other executives in Mr. Britt’s office overlooking Manhattan’s Central Park. Time Warner owns HBO, TNT, CNN and other channels. Apple’s Mr. Cue arrived 10 minutes late and was wearing jeans, tennis shoes with no socks, and a Hawaiian shirt, says a person familiar with the meeting. The other executives were wearing suits.

The thing is, they are Apple. Apple wants deals with these TV networks, but doesn’t need them. Matthew Panzarino:

Translation: Apple wasn’t budging and can afford to wait so content providers are playing this out in the press.

Thursday, 28 July 2016