The Future of TV was on display this week as multiple sources reported significant moves by the two media titans, Apple and Google. And typical of their other battles, the two companies are taking very different approaches. Apple will reportedly be working with cable companies like Time Warner for their service, while Google will be competing with them.

The NY Times reported this week that Apple is in talks with distributors and programmers to include apps on Apple TV that would make it easier for users to access the content they want. This would surely be a smart move for cable and satellite services like Time Warner Cable and Comcast, who can retain customers without having to provide them with a separate cable box or remote control. Apple TV users would, in theory, be able to access programming from their cable or satellite provider through the app, as long as they are a paying customer and have a login. In return for “enhancing their television service,” Apple will likely collect a fee from distributors. A Time Warner app is reportedly coming soon, but it remains to be seen if Apple will create similar apps for other cable or satellite providers.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg and others reported this week that Google is in very early talks with media companies to license their content for TV. It’s rumored that Google’s intention is to introduce its own online-television service, which would require content partnerships with companies. If Google were able to offer viewers television packages, this would put them in direct competition with the MSOs. Presumably, Google would also be looking to include a number of prominent YouTube channels in their bundles.
So which approach will succeed? Program producers may be wary of Google’s approach because the producers want to maintain good relations with all program distributors, especially the MSOs. Some producers may view Google as more of a competitor due to Google’s aggressive moves in programming with YouTube channels and YouTube’s moves to encourage up-and-coming talent to create new channels. Apple’s strategy of working with the MSOs may very well make it easier for them to navigate the space. We should see something from Apple TV by the end of the year.
We’re still in the early stages, but rest assured, the revolution will be televised.