One $4 episode per night (delayed by several days) turns into $28 a week, which turns into $112 a month. In this situation, cable becomes a sweet deal.
There's absolutely no incentive for programmers to give Apple much more. Again, it's very similar to the Netflix relationship in theory. And there's even less incentive for consumers to use iTunes/Apple TV to cobble together a viewing schedule that would end up being more expensive than the sum of its parts as traditionally conceived.
Although Blankenhorn doesn't explicitly say Apple could or should do this with sports, plenty of others have. A day doesn't pass without a rumor of Apple trying to weasel access to major sports programming directly (e.g. EPL Soccer rights) or indirectly (you name it).
Here again, what's the incentive for a massive old guard media company to pay billions for the rights to sports and then license those rights to Apple? We will not live in a world where you fire up iTunes on your Apple TV and order Knicks-Nets on MSG without having to purchase the entire NBA League Pass.Ultimately, the particulars do not matter because names such as NBCUniversal, majority-owned by Comcast (CMCSA) and News Corp's (NWSA) latest acquisition, YES, have no reason to bust the model, even if it means hurting Disney's (DIS) ESPN franchise. Think about it. You're Time Warner's (TWX) Turner division or News Corp's Fox. You just paid billions of dollars for the rights to Major League Baseball games over the next decade or so. These highly coveted sports telecasts give you the leverage you need to charge cable companies and, in turn, consumers hefty amounts for packages that include channels nobody watches or would pay for if they didn't "have" to. You have a sweet deal. You own the content. You control the content. You sell advertising on it. And you effectively own the means of distribution because, at the end of the day, you have the cable and satellite companies by the private parts. For example, a regional network such as Madison Square Garden (MSG) can hold Time Warner Cable (TWC) hostage, effectively saying if you want people in New York to ever see the Yankees, Rangers, Devils and Buffalo Sabres again you will take the Fuse network and like it.