The good news is that this deal would not necessarily be tied to any piece of hardware such as the oft-rumored Apple Tablet or AppleTV. The content would simply be tied to your iTunes account, thus you could access the content through any device that had iTunes.
The real question here is can Apple get the networks on board? While networks often claim they are excited to look at new revenue streams, in reality they never really want to because they don’t want to threaten the subscription fees they receive from cable and satellite providers such as Time/Warner or Comcast. I can especially see Fox and NBC balking at this idea because they want to launch some paid form of Hulu and they might worry about canabalizing sales.
What the networks have to realize though is that in the long run, their real competitor is pirated television shows. In 2 years you’ll be able to buy a 30 gig USB flash drive for like $20 bucks. This means any 14 year old kid can easily take a bunch of shows and give them to all their friends, how doe the networks stop that? How do they stop pirate downloads from bit torrent sites or newsgroups? I have a “friend” who used to download tons of pirated music from Kazaa and file sharing sites, but after time my “friend” realized that it was much easier to just buy music for .99 cents from iTunes, and then he didn’t have to worry about being branded a criminal. This has to be where the networks move, I think they would find that a lot of would-be pirates would gladly pay $30 bucks a month for HD on-demand streaming of television shows, I know I certainly would. Yes, I would cancel my satellite service, between this and Netflix I’d be set for a much smaller monthly fee then I’m currently paying.
So, do the right thing networks, there are millions of us just waiting for this kind of service. Jump on board before you become the buggy whip dealer.