Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about Apple TV during an Apple event in San Francisco, California March 9, 2015 / Reuters

Cable-cutting service could launch alongside a refreshed Apple TV box, say reports

Apple is planning to launch an online TV service later this year, according to reports.

The rumoured service will be something like Netflix — offering TV programmes from big broadcasters for a regular fee, according to the Wall Street Journal.

But it could also offer live-streaming content, allowing users to watch programmes as they are shown without signing up to expensive TV packages giving them access to many channels they never watch.

The report comes in the wake of Apple’s announcement last week that it would launch HBO Now on the Apple TV, giving customers in the US the ability to get HBO content without signing up for a cable package. Apple also said that it had cut the price of the Apple TV to £59, prompting speculation that the company would either launch a new version of the product or introduce a new way of generating revenue through it.

The service would include content from about 25 TV channels, which could be watched on Apple’s range of devices including the iPhone and iPad as well as the Apple TV. Users might also be able to buy a slimmed down version of the service that will give access to fewer channels.

The channels being approached include Walt Disney, CBs and 21st Century Fox, according to the reports. The discussions don’t involve NBCUniversal, which owns NBC and other channels, because the two companies have fallen out, the Journal reported.

A refreshed version of the software for the Apple TV could also include a version of the App Store for the set-top box, allowing customers to play games and download other apps. At the moment, Apple TV comes pre-installed with a range of apps for getting video content, which Apple chooses to introduce or remove in software updates.

The new service could fuel rumours that Apple is working on its own television — which has been suggested since Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he’d “finally cracked” TV. But in the forthcoming biography Becoming Steve Jobs, he is reported to have told Jony Ive that “Apple will never make a TV again”.

But rumours of tie-ups with TV companies to make a subscription service have also gained momentum. An email from Jobs released as part of court proceedings last year showed that plans for “Apple TV” including mention of “TV subscription” and a list of potential networks.

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