Apple iTV to be US-only at launch?

Apple's long-rumoured television could take a while to hit UK shores, industry analysts tell Stuff.tv

The long-rumoured Apple iTV could be exclusively available in the US for some time after its launch, industry analysts tell Stuff.tv.

Although a US exclusive period for the Apple iTV may have international Apple fans weeping, it's inevitable given the extra hoops that Apple has to jump through, thanks to buzz-killing content licensing requirements. Boo, hiss.

Informa's broadband content and online video analyst Giles Cottle would find it "surprising if the Apple television wasn't launched exclusively in the US first, as content rights can be a massive burden and have to be managed on a country-by-country basis." Anyone outside the US who tried to legally stream HBO's epic Game of Thrones series will be familiar with the burdens in question – so if a delayed UK iTV launch means we'll be able to eventually watch US shows with less hassle, then a little patience should be well worth it.

Cottle goes on to say that "it makes more sense for Apple to launch the TV in the US initially, before adapting it for the global market" – a view which falls in line with IHS market analyst Veronica Thayer's opinion that the Apple iTV "needs a good content offer to be successful."

Although iTunes currently serves up plenty of video content to UK users, senior analyst at IHS Paul Erickson believes that "an initial US focus is possible as [Apple's] strongest video content availability on iTunes is in the US" – it makes more sense for Apple to beef up its international video offerings before releasing the iTV into the paws of international Apple fans.

It'll also be interesting to see how existing UK providers will react to the launch of the Apple iTV – and Cottle wouldn't be surprised to see "strong content brands such as Sky eager to offer its content on the TV." With Sky's Now TV launching in the last week, Sky on the iTV is a likely prospect – something that will undoubtedly have existing Sky customers drooling over their remotes.

Then, of course, there's the all-important question of money. Sure, Apple's swimming in the green stuff – but the existing Apple TV's main market is still mainly in the US, and Erickson believes that Apple "wouldn't want to spend the effort and marketing dollars to push a TV in markets where both Apple video product demand and local content availability are low at the current time." Makes sense, no?

While it's a given that Apple will eventually launch the iTV outside the US, there's a strong possibility that international Apple fans could be left in the lurch when its rumoured 2014 release date rolls around.

Check out our Apple iTV rumour roundup for the latest on Apple's iTelly.

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