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Apple TV 'close' to deal with Time Warner - report

Hires senior Hulu sales exec to help it with big media negotiations

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Cupertino is close to closing a deal with Time Warner that will allow fanbois to watch proper grown-up telly - and Disney films - through their Apple TV boxes.

Bloomberg says that insiders "with knowledge of the negotiations" spilled the beans. When the agreement is officially inked, it will mean that Time Warner Cable customers will be able to use the fruity firm's Apple TV device to watch some of their favourite channels, said the newswire's sources. The cable giant offers access to 200 different channels, but it is not yet known which ones will be available via Apple's little box.

An agreement between the two firms is expected to be reached in the coming months.

The fruity firm has already set up deal with HBO and ESPN which allows fangurlz and bois to watch programmes on demand by downloading the apps HBO and WatchESPN, which can then be beamed onto their proper telly using Apple TV. Cupertino is keen to sell more of its cute gizmos, particularly as it faces competition from similar on-demand streaming services offered by Roku or on Microsoft's Xbox.

According to those same sources, Apple has also poached Pete Distad from Hulu. His experience as senior vice president in charge of marketing and distribution will be invaluable in helping Apple execs negotiate with big media.

Neither Apple or Time Warner have confirmed that a deal is in the offing.

"We don’t have an agreement with them at this time,” said Susan Leepson, a spokeswoman for Time Warner Cable.

Apple TV has evolved from a device that allows video to be streamed from a Mac computer or iOS device to a larger screen, into one that offers free and paid content. Youtube, Netflix and Sky News all offer services using it.

Once upon a time, in 2007, Steve Jobs said he hoped Apple TV would become Cupertino's "fourth leg", the other three being Mac sales, iTunes revenue and the iPhone.

Speaking at the All Things D digital technology conference in May, fruity CEO Tim Cook said his firm had flogged 13 million of the devices and insisted that television was of "intense interest" to Apple.

He said: “When you look at the TV experience, it’s not an experience that I think very many people love. It’s not one that has been brought up to date for this decade. It’s still an experience much like 10 years ago or 20 years ago." ®

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