In June 2001 Apple introduced the world to iTunes, a music marketplace that largely changed the way we buy music. And now, almost a decade later rumor has it that Apple wants to revolutionize the way we get our television delivered by offering all you can watch TV for $30.

Before Apple can offer consumers the opportunity to ditch their cable subscriptions for an all-you-can-watch plan it has to convince the television networks that it's a good idea, just like it did with the music labels.

Given the numerous side projects of networks, like CBS' TV.com, and the attempts by cable companies to restrict online streaming to customers, Apple faces a big hurdle before it can offer a $30 unlimited TV package.

That said, with more and more networks looking for a way to monetize their content online, Apple may be able to capture their attention and the eyes of 100 million iTunes account holders with a plan that puts streaming TV on any device with iTunes. With Hulu reported to start charging for content in 2010, Apple may be able to leverage its close ties with Disney to kick off the streaming service with a respectable selection.

So, will lightning strike twice for Apple, allowing the company to convert another generation of media consumers who have grown accustomed to consuming for free into a paid monthly purchase?

Yes, but only if it is able to offer consumers easier access to better quality TV shows -- on their televisions and mobile devices.

To start with;
  • No ads in the programming.
  • Offer true HD. If it doesn't look as good as what the cable company is pushing forget it.
  • Live sports broadcasts. If Apple wants to replace cable it can't do it without football, basketball, NASCAR and hockey.
  • It has to work anywhere. iPod, iPhone, Windows, Mac, Windows Media Center and more; it can't just be on your TV.
Assuming Apple is able to convince the networks to offer a $30 all-you-can-watch TV package to the masses, will it be enough to bring back consumers who, to save money or time, cut their cable subscriptions?

We asked two recent cable cutters to weigh in on the option of paying a monthly fee to bring TV back in to their homes.

Tobias Buckell, who recently let go of cable to cut down on wasted time, would give Apple's take on TV a chance.
"Hell, it'd be tempting if it came without ads, just as the existing iTunes programs do. One reason I went without cable is so that I could not just timeshift my watching, but reduce wasted time watching reruns of shows I'd already watched and getting ad clutter out of my life, just like I use a popup blocker. If there's a service that works like Watch It Now, I'd be very, very tempted..."
But, Neal Frankle, of Wealth Pilgrim, wouldn't be so welcoming of a new TV service provider into his home.
"I shut off the cable and saved something a lot more valuable than my money -- it was time"

I don't care if they gave me TV for free, it would still cost me the time I waste in front of the tube so I don't want the temptation. In the short time I've gotten rid of it my family spends much more time together, the energy level in our home is great and it's an entirely new life experience.

Apple...no thanks."
There's sure to be differing opinions on the possible $30 a month TV plan from Apple, but one thing's for sure. So long as Apple isn't the only place to get the content, consumers will win by having greater options for getting their entertainment.

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