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Apple wants to sell HBO, Showtime and Starz in a single bundle

No deal yet. But this one will be easier than selling regular TV.

Actor Jude Law smokes a cigarette as “The Young Pope” HBO
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Apple isn’t done trying to sell you pay TV.

Here’s the company’s latest proposal: It wants to sell consumers a premium TV bundle, which combines HBO, Showtime and Starz.

Apple already sells each of those channels individually. But it has approached the three networks about rolling them up into a single package, as conventional pay TV operators sometimes do.

The difference: Traditional pay TV operators, like Charter, usually require consumers to subscribe to a basic level of TV channels before they will sell them a premium bundle. Apple could sell the bundle as a standalone product, delivered via its iOS devices and its Apple TV set-top box.

Apple doesn’t have a bundle deal in place with any of the premium networks, industry sources say. Reps from HBO, owned by Time Warner, and Showtime, owned by CBS, declined to comment. Reps from Starz, owned by Lionsgate, and Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Apple currently sells HBO for $15 a month, Showtime for $11 a month and Starz for $9 a month. I don’t know the price Apple is seeking for its proposed bundle.

Apple has publicly declared that it has stopped trying to sell a traditional bundle of pay TV channels over the internet, even as others have started to do just that. Sony, AT&T and Dish all sell web TV packages, and Google and Hulu have announced plans to sell their own.

Eddy Cue, Apple’s media boss, has said traditional TV networks aren’t willing to make the concessions he wants to sell a TV package. But a premium bundle would be much easier, since he already sells those networks individually. The main question would be the price and the percentage of revenue the network owners would want.

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