Apple Teases Pay TV's Streaming Future

Apple’s keynote presentation at the company’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference last week was, as usual, chock full of news for fans of the tech giant.

Somewhat lost in the news about augmented reality and new operating systems was a subtle tweak to software—and a new partnership—that attests to the future of pay TV’s streaming future.

While many consumers are cutting or trimming the cord in favor of subscription streaming services, the cold hard truth is that a majority of U.S. households still pay for TV through traditional means.

Of course, consumers are growing fond of the great user experiences that streaming apps offer, and most pay-TV firms allow consumers to watch shows through apps created by the networks themselves, once those consumers are verified as pay-TV customers.

The problem, for years, has been that registering and signing on to these apps (which are now in the dozens, with essentially every major channel having them), is an annoying extra step that many consumers just aren’t taking.

Apple, which has a major connected TV platform in the form of Apple TV, is looking for a way to remove that friction, and in so doing become a friend to Big Pay TV.

So at WWDC the company announced “zero sign-on,” which will automatically verify whether an Apple TV owners pay for TV, and sign them on automatically to relevant apps. No searching for usernames, no log-on screenit will just work.

Charter Spectrum was announced as the launch partner, with customers of that cable provider getting the capability this year. A source at another large cable company confirmed to Video Insider that its execs have had discussions with Apple as well.

In the grand scheme of things, it was a small announcementbut it showed a path that existing pay-TV providers could follow. The satellite companies DirecTV and Dish Network already operate their own national streaming services. If cable companies and telcos won’t follow them, then they need to make the experience of watching TV as easy as possible.

Apple’s solution takes that next step, even if it means giving up ownership of the cable box in favor of the Apple TV.

Whether they will take a bite of that opportunity, or try and forge their own path, is the big question.

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