Apple, Comcast in talks to stream new TV service


Apple and Comcast are reportedly discussing a deal for a new streaming television service.

According to The Wall Street Journal report published on Sunday evening, the deal would let users stream live and on-demand TV stored on the Internet, essentially replacing a normal cable box.

Service over the potential arrangement would be separated from regular Internet connections over the so-called “last mile” of connection to a consumer, where heavy traffic can slow down Web speeds. That would theoretically make the streaming video as smooth as it would be for people watching TV via a traditional set-top cable box.

The proposal would likely not violate the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality regulations, which mandate content online is treated equally, according to the report. Apple’s video streams would reportedly operate on a separate “flow” from other Internet service, and would be treated as a “managed service” like on-demand video. The commission's rules allow companies to treat those services differently from regular Internet traffic.

The FCC’s net neutrality regulations were thrown out by a federal appeals court in January, but Comcast is nonetheless committed to them until 2018, under the terms of its 2011 acquisition of NBC Universal.

Despite opposition from Republicans in Congress, the FCC has begun to write new rules for the Internet, though it is unclear how that process would treat a service like the one Apple and Comcast are reportedly discussing.

Shares of both Apple and Comcast were up in premarket trading on the heels of the news.

Representatives from Comcast and Apple did not immediately respond to questions about the reported discussions on Monday morning. The Journal reported the deal was still in the early stages of discussion.

Comcast, the country’s largest cable provider, earlier this year proposed to merge with Time Warner Cable. The proposal has come under fire from some consumer advocates who worry it would too heavily consolidate the market, but regulators have only recently begun their scrutiny of the proposal.

Last month, the cable giant inked a deal with Netflix to give subscribers better video streaming quality.