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Published on October 7th, 2018 | by Brad Gibson

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Apple negotiating with UKs BT over Apple TV-bundled pay-TV deal

Apple is in talks with British telecommunications company BT over a ­possible partnership to combine Apple TV hardware with Apple’s future programming and BT’s sports and other channels, the London Daily Telegraph is reporting Sunday (subscription required).

Sources report the two sides are “in early discussions over a deal that would make BT’s mobile brand EE a major distributor of Apple TV set-top boxes.”

Discussions are reportedly focused on BT offering the technology to EE broadband customers pre-loaded with apps to ­deliver BT’s Sport channels and channels from other broadcasters.

Reports are the deal would combine Apple original programming together with BT content it offers on its consumer broadband TV service. Instead of creating its own set-top box, The Telegraph says BT feels it can “forge deeper partnerships” with high-tech companies like Apple.

If the deal happens, it would be a large advantage for Apple. Apple already has a similar deal in Switzerland with the telecoms operator and pay-TV provider Salt.

At present, three of the largest broadcasters in Great Britain – the BBC, ITV, and Channel 5 – have a presence on Apple TV with their own apps. The only other broadcasters yet to appear on Apple TV, Channel 4, is reportedly working on a tvOS app with “no timescale” on when it will be released.

A major competitor to BT and its broadband TV service is Sky UK and its Now TV service, which is available on Apple TV through its own app. Now TV is a contract-free subscription-based service with operations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Italy. It essentially is the equivalent of the Sky satellite TV service, but in a streaming service broken down into ‘Now TV passes’. The majority of the services available by Now TV are designed to cater to consumers who do not want to be tied to a contract. 

Sky UK and Now TV are owned by 21st Century Fox. The timing of the possible Apple deal with BT comes as Fox has agreed to sell its 39 percent ownership in the European pay-TV provider to Comcast.

Apple and BT declined to comment to The Telegraph.

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About the Author

Brad is co-founder and editor-in-chief of BESTAppleTV.com. He has been a technology reporter since the late 1980s having previously worked for MacUser, MacFormat, and iCreate magazines, as well as MacNN.com, MacObserver.com, MacCentral.com, MacMinute.com, and Macworld.com. He hosted and produced the MacFormat This Week podcast for three years. He was also a reporter, editor, and producer for the Associated Press and United Press International.



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