ESPN President Claims Apple Is Frustrated With Streaming TV Negotiations

The next frontier in television is cutting the cord with traditional cable and satellite providers in favor of streaming content from the Internet. We've already seen it to some extent with services like Hulu and Netflix, but we're still waiting for that one unbeatable service to rule them all. Apple hopes to be it, provided it can make headway in negotiations with programmers.

Therein lies the rub. Media companies have been painfully slow to adapt to the Internet era, choosing instead to cling onto old business models. A similar scenario played out when music made the transition from cassette tapes and CDs to MP3 files, and to some extent, we're seeing it yet again with artists like Taylor Swift playing hardball with Spotify (see doesn't want her music made available to listeners of Spotify's free, ad-supported tier).

Apple Remote

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, John Skipper, president of ESPN, talked about the over-the-top (streaming) movement and when or if it plans to make its traditional TV channels available to any of the emerging services. During the course of the interview, the topic of Apple came up and whether or not Skipper thinks the Cupertino outfit can be a player in the TV industry. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, he said Apple's been "frustrated" with its attempt to negotiate terms with programmers.

"They are creating a significantly advantageous operating system and a great television experience and that television experience is fabulous for sports. We are big proponents of believing it would be a fabulous place to sell some subscriptions," Skipper said. "We have ongoing conversations. They have been frustrated by their ability to construct something which works for them with programmers. We continue to try to work with them."

Dish Network was able to strike a deal with ESPN to include it among a bundle of channels on its Sling TV streaming service for $20, but even the satellite TV company is having a tough time getting others to jump on board, such as ABC. Consider that Apple is starting from scratch and you can see how it might be frustrating to negotiate terms with enough programmers to make a streaming service worthwhile.