Sky shows why Apple can’t make a TV.
This will work, right now, in all of Sky’s 4.3m Sky+ HD homes. (That’s roughly the same number as Apple’s total global AppleTV sales…)
A pay TV provider can do this: Apple can’t do any of this, because they don’t actually have the content or the channels, nor will they unless the people who own the content and channels (in other words, Sky) allow them to.
Nor is there any compelling reason why many pay TV providers would allow Apple do do this - why would they sell their soul? They’ve spent 15 years fighting to keep Microsoft out of the living-room - they’re not about to give Apple the keys to the kingdom.
And, to state what ought to be obvious, Apple cannot afford to outbid the existing broadcasters and pay TV providers for content in every major market in the world - and even if it could, it would be monetising that content against a far smaller base. RAI can monetise HBO shows in Italy far better than Apple, or even HBO.
These are the barriers Apple has been butting against for years: it’s a business model problem, not a technology problem. Apple didn’t need Nokia’s permission to make the iPhone, but it does need permission from content owners and pay TV providers to make a TV that does anything disruptive.
Tangentially, it is much easier for a Pay TV provider to innovate through smartphone apps than to embed new functionality directly into the STB. Not only are there memory and processing limitations, but anything you do to a STB risks bricking it, necessitating months of testing, whereas the worst a smartphone app can do is crash itself - embarrassing but not catastrophic.