Samsung Explores Online TV Service With Cable Networks

  • Electronics maker said to consider global video offering
  • Plans for video streaming said to be in early stages

Samsung Electronics Co. is in preliminary talks with entertainment companies to sell an online TV service, according to people familiar with the matter, potentially joining a growing list of tech companies trying to compete with the likes of Comcast Corp. and AT&T Inc.

The South Korean company has asked media companies how much they would charge to carry their TV networks in a bundle of channels over the Web, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. One idea Samsung is evaluating is whether it could offer the same collection of channels on a global basis instead of just the U.S., one of the people said.

The plans are still in the early stages, and Samsung may ultimately decide not to pursue the concept, the people said.

A service like the one Samsung is exploring could work as an app on Web-connected TV sets and mobile phones -- both products made by the electronics giant. By selling its own cable-like service, Samsung could help drive more sales of its phones and TVs.

“Our approach is to continue to develop strategic collaborations with content partners rather than compete with them,” Samsung said in a statement.

If the company decides to go ahead with an online video offering, it will enter a crowded market. Already, Sony Corp. and Dish Network Corp. are selling live TV services over the Internet, trying to attract subscribers by offering only the most popular channels at a lower price than traditional cable service. Hulu LLC, Inc. and Google’s YouTube are also working on introducing similar services. Apple Inc. has also discussed a proposal with programmers.

Many have struggled to secure all the channels they want while still keeping the service at a desirable price -- about $30 a month -- because media companies push for TV providers to carry all of their channels and not just the most popular ones. They’ve also struggled to get deals to carry local broadcast stations that aren’t owned by major networks like CBS and ABC.

To keep the retail price down, Hulu will probably include channels from Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox Inc. and Time Warner Inc. and exclude others like Viacom Inc. and Discovery Communications Inc., Citigroup analysts wrote in a research note Wednesday. Hulu’s service would likely sell for $30 a month starting in the first half of 2017, the analysts said.

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