With every passing day, more people are looking to the cut the cord with their cable and satellite TV providers in favor of streaming solutions. This has led to some intense competition among streaming set-top box and dongle providers, along with standalone services such as Netflix and Hulu. To make its own set-top box more competitive, Apple is trying to strike a deal with HBO, Showtime, and Starz to be able and package all three channels in a single bundle.
Apple also wants to be able to offer the bundle as a standalone package through Apple TV. That would be a deviation from how things operate in the pay-TV world, where cable and satellite providers require that customers subscribe to a basic TV package before being able to add on premium channels like HBO. It's a tiered pricing model that premium channels have long embraced and insisted on, so it will be interesting to see if Apple can pull this off.
As it stands, Apple does not offer a bundle deal for the any of the premium networks. Instead, it charges $15 per month for HBO (owned by Time Warner), $11 a month for Showtime (owned by CBS), and $9 a month for Starz (owned by Lionsgate). It is not clear how much Apple wants to charge for a bundle consisting of all three channels, though we suspect it's less than $35 per month, which is the total for all three combined if subscribing to each one individually.
Apple previously stated that it is no longer interested in selling a traditional pay-TV bundle over the Internet. Even though other companies have gone that route, including Sony, AT&T, and Dish, Apple had a tough time negotiating prices and terms it deemed favorable. Big media has been slow to adopt the streaming movement in fear of cannibalizing pay-TV, which has been lucrative.
The good news for cord cutters is that the situation is improving, albeit slowly. For example, Dish's Sling TV service starts at $20 per month for over 30 channels, including ESPN, CNN, AMC, TNT, TBS, Disney, Comedy Central, Food Network, and many more.