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Apple Boss Drops Hint About TV Plans

The well-worn rumors about Apple’s plans to launch a virtual pay-TV service got a fresh coat of paint following the company’s Q3 earnings call last week.

And, for a change, the latest cycle of speculation comes directly from Apple and CEO Tim Cook, who hinted about what might be in store.

“The introduction of Apple TV and tvOS last October and the subsequent OS releases and what’s coming out this fall … think of that as sort of building the foundation for what we believe can be a broader business over time,” Cook said.

He didn’t go into further detail about what else is in store, but added: “But you shouldn’t look at what’s there today and think we’ve done what we want to do.”

Apple has been rumored to be interested in building a national “skinny” pay-TV service that includes the major local broadcast TV networks, but reportedly has been running into a brick wall trying to get those deals done.

Though Sony’s PlayStation Vue service is not skinny by any stretch, it’s a “virtual” MVPD that has come the closest to building a service that includes the live local broadcast TV feeds on a national basis. PS Vue currently offers the local feeds of the Big 4 broadcasters (ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox) in all of their owned-and-operated markets, and recently started to offer local CBS fees in select Sinclair, Raycom and Midwest Television markets. In markets where PS Vue does not offer those local fees, its national “Slim” packages provide next-day, on-demand access to shows from broadcasters. PS Vue has been expanding its device support, but has yet to launch an app for Apple TV.

And it’s possible that Apple is no longer interested in travelling the skinny TV path. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Apple’s Eddy Cue played up the Apple TV’s ability to stream content from other distributors, but added that he’s “not a big fan of the skinny bundle.”