CBS Passed on Apple TV Service

Les Moonves at CBS

Apple has been gradually adding new media streaming services to the Apple TV, but there have also been rumors floating around for a while that Apple has been trying to put together their own media streaming service. The assumption has been that the service, rumored to be called iTunes Replay, would be positioned to compete with Netflix and Amazon by streaming movies and television shows. However, recent comments by Les Moonves, CEO of CBS, suggest the iTunes Replay, if it ever comes to fruition, could look more like Hulu.  

The rumors surrounding iTunes Replay suggest that Apple has had little luck in getting studios to sign on and it sounds like CBS was one of those reluctant studios. In a recent earnings call Moonves commented that CBS had declined to participate in an ad-supported, Apple TV-based streaming service. 

CBS CEO Les Moonves is known to occasionally drop pieces of information that he’s not supposed to on his company’s earnings calls, and this quarter was no exception. When asked about CBS’s appetite for striking deals with new streaming providers that might not have the money to pay cash upfront to license its content, Moonves said that CBS had decided against joining an Apple TV service because it was based on an ad split.


Given that CBS has been willing to license their content to Amazon and Netflix, there is an upfront payment that CBS considers appropriate. Apple obviously was not willing to go there and it would make sense that Apple might be running into the same problem with other studios. The question is, is Apple missing opportunities by trying to lowball the studios, or are the studios missing the future by expecting too much money right now?