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ESPN in ‘ongoing conversations’ with Apple over streaming service

Apple and US sports titan ESPN remain in talks over a deal that could see a cable-free option arrive form part of the former’s desired pay TV service.

John Skipper, the network president, reiterated widely-publicised reports suggesting Apple has been frustrated in its efforts to put reach deals with content providers for an Apple TV based proposition.

When asked by the Wall Street Journal whether Apple has a route into becoming a major TV industry player, Skipper said Apple was in an ‘advantageous position’ with an OS that works well for sports.

In an interview he said: “They are creating a significantly advantageous operating system and a great television experience and that television experience is fabulous for sports.

“We are big proponents of believing it would be a fabulous place to sell some subscriptions. We have ongoing conversations. They have been frustrated by their ability to construct something which works for them with programmers. We continue to try to work with them.”

ESPN is already making its content available to cord-cutters (those without a subscription to traditional cable subscription) on the Sling TV platform, which is a would-be Apple rival in the sector.

Currently those with iOS and tvOS devices can watch ESPN via the WatchESPN app, but must login through their TV provider. A standalone option is not yet available.

Freeing up the network from the necessity of an account with another company, as Showtime and HBO have done in the last year, would be a huge boost for any platform Apple is looking to built.

Skipper reckons it’d help ESPN make up the numbers for customers who’re ditching traditional pay TV offerings.

He added: “We’ve had discussions with Apple. I believe in 2016 there will be further announcements on other kinds of packages… that will get younger subscribers into the market.”

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