Comcast Today: Is A Deal in The Works With Apple?

Plus: Writers Guild of America opposes Comcast merger.

The big news today? Comcast is reportedly talking with Apple about creating a new streaming TV service. Message to cord-cutters: You can’t get away. Stop trying.

Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc. is in talks with Comcast Corp. about teaming up for a streaming-television service that would use an Apple set-top box and get special treatment on Comcast’s cables to ensure it bypasses congestion on the Web, people familiar with the matter say.

The discussions between the world’s most valuable company and the nation’s largest cable provider are still in early stages and many hurdles remain. But the deal, if sealed, would mark a new level of cooperation and integration between a technology company and a cable provider to modernize TV viewing.

Apple and Comcast aren’t close to an agreement, said one person familiar with the talks. Delivering the service quality Apple envisions would require Comcast to make significant investments in network equipment and other back-office technology, according to people familiar with Comcast’s thinking.

Basically, Apple is trying to get Netlix’s deal with Comcast — assurance of delivery of high-speed, uninterrupted video — but without Netflix’s hassles and anger over the deal.

Variety is skeptical:

The issue here isn’t the veracity of the WSJ report; there’s no reason to question whether Apple and Comcast are actually talking. Apple has been in talks with media companies constantly since its breakthrough deal in 2005 that first put Disney movies and TV shows on iTunes.

But what has happened since then? Lots of talk, little action.

Our breathless anticipation over the prospect of Apple throwing off the yoke of tyranny that is the average pay-TV subscription has induced a curious mass amnesia: We forget Apple and media companies just don’t get a lot of deals done.

Think back to 2009, when Apple and various studios discussed a $30 TV subscription plan that went nowhere. Or the 99-cent-per-episode TV rental plan that only won over some of the studios a year later.

Other Comcastic headlines today:

Comcast already boasts the largest building in all of Philadelphia, yet it still labored until January to persuade Pennsylvania to support the construction of an even larger home — and pay for some of the city upgrades needed to make it happen. So when the cable giant eventually completes its 59-story, $1.2 billion glass high rise not far from the corner of 18th and Arch streets, it’ll own a towering reminder of its ability to influence local governments across the country. That sort of political power could help Comcast immensely if its new merger faces tough questions beyond the walls of Washington. For now, states like Florida, California, Indiana and Maryland have promised to scrutinize the $45 billion Time Warner Cable deal — and many of those local attorneys general previously have taken home a campaign check from Comcast’s deep-pocketed political action committee. So has Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, who received a $50,000 contribution last year. The Republican has vocally backed Comcast’s new merger plans. (Politico)

The Writers Guild of America has offered a chilling picture of the future of television to the Federal Communications Commission in a bid to block the proposed ComcastTime Warner Cable merger. “The FCC should deny the proposed merger,” the WGA said in a brief filed with the FCC on Friday, noting that the merged entity “would control almost 30%” of the cable and satellite TV market.Such a merger, the guild argued, “would give too much power over broadcast and cable networks. Comcast’s ability to blackout one-third of television viewers would force networks to agree to terms and rates set by Comcast, harming investment in programming.” (Deadline Hollywood)