Apple TV Cable Deal Draws Near as Time Warner Gets Ready to Sign Bloomberg

Hulu marketing executive reportedly hired at Apple to help with negotiations

Apple is edging closer to routing cable TV programming through its tiny black box, according to people who are familiar with the talks between the Cupertino behemoth and Time Warner.

Bloomberg has learned from these people, who declined to be named, that Apple and Time Warner Cable are close to signing a deal that would give subscribers access to channels via Apple TV, the $99/€99 set-top box sold by the iPhone maker as a “hobby.”

If the deal goes through, the agreement will be announced within a few months, according to the same people.

The effort will be aided by Pete Distad, a recent Apple hire from Hulu LLC. Distad was senior vice president in charge of marketing and content distribution at Hulu.

At Apple, he will help executives “in negotiations with media and cable companies,” which means getting Time Warner to sign is just the first of many steps for Apple to start selling a full television experience.

The news seems to support rumors that Apple is preparing to revolutionize the TV interface with its own big-screen television set.

So far, the company’s TV offerings have been mostly based on VoD services, but the Apple TV experience is beginning to expand as of late.

For example, with a new software update pushed out last month, Apple added HBO GO, WatchESPN and content providers Sky News, Crunchyroll, and Qello to the mix.

Analysts such as Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray have long advocated for a full-fledged Apple-branded HDTV, but the Cupertino giant led by Tim Cook has been reluctant to dip a toe in the water.

All that might change with Time Warner’s signature marking the first wave of real cable programming accessible through the Apple TV.

If Apple’s negotiation prowess to get the music labels on iTunes Radio is any indication, Apple TV this year might finally shake off its “hobby” status at 1 Infinite Loop.

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