Apple has a new trick up its sleeve as it tries to launch a long-awaited television service: technology that allows viewers to skip commercials and that pays media companies for the skipped views. For more than a year, Apple has been seeking rights from cable companies and television networks for a service that would allow users to watch live and on-demand television over an Apple set-top box or TV. Talks have been slow and proceeding in fits and starts, but things seem to be heating up. In recent discussions, Apple told media executives it wants to offer a “premium” version of the service that would allow users to skip ads and would compensate television networks for the lost revenue, according to people briefed on the conversations. Consumers, of course, are already accustomed to fast-forwarding through commercials on their DVRs, and how Apple’s technology differs is unclear.
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Google has approached media companies about licensing their content for an Internet TV service that would stream traditional TV programming, people familiar with the matter say. If the Web giant goes ahead with the idea, it would join several other companies planning to offer such “over-the-top” services, delivering cable TV-style packages of channels over broadband connections. Chip company Intel and Sony are both working on similar offerings, while Apple has pitched various TV licensing ideas to media companies in the past couple of years. If launched, the Internet TV services could have major implications for the traditional TV ecosystem, creating new competition for pay TV operators that are already struggling to retain video subscribers. Existing online video players like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon offer on-demand TV, but the latest efforts are aimed at offering conventional channels, allowing consumers to flip through channels just as they would on cable.
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It’s no “Arrested Development,” but Hulu is announcing that it, too, is bringing TV programs back from the dead. (Coming back from the dead – hey, that sounds like a soap plot!). Hulu has now signed a deal with media production Prospect Park to air the previously canceled soap operas “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” on Hulu and Hulu Plus, where they’re going to air in addition to Apple’s iTunes. Though clearly not the kind of programming that everyone enjoys, soap operas have a core audience of fans addicted to their cliff-hanging story lines, and often serve as the launch pad for actors who later go on to do higher quality work. In the past, soap opera alumni has included household names like Demi Moore, Julianne Moore, Meg Ryan, Kevin Bacon, Susan Sarandon, Eva Longoria, Ryan Phillippe, Teri Hatcher, Ray Liotta, Kelsey Grammer, Tommy Lee Jones, and dozens of others.
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