Apple and Comcast are in preliminary talks about a streaming TV service that would work through Apple set-tops, an arrangement that might give Apple some advantage not shared by any of its over-the-top rivals, according to The Wall Street Journal.

This ends up being less than The WSJ makes it out to be… at first. After paragraphs and paragraphs of speculation, the paper reports that Apple is asking for an arrangement Comcast has no doubt already laughed off, assuming the report has all the details.

For starters, Apple doesn’t have much, if anything, in the way of content rights. That should be “for enders” right there, but what the heck, let’s look at the other things on Apple’s wish list.

According to the report, “Apple has proposed that users would sign on to the new device using Apple login IDs, and it is interested in controlling customer data, the people familiar with the matter said. Apple also has asked for a cut of the monthly subscription fees paid by customers, these people said.”

Way at the bottom of the article, The WSJ notes, somewhat tersely, “Comcast wants to retain significant control over the relationship with customers and the data.”

Gee, you think?

Unless Apple offers up a slice of the iTunes business in exchange, it doesn't seem to have much to offer in return to Comcast, or any other MVPD. Anyone think Apple is going to cut anyone else into its iTunes business?

Lacking further details, or some greater accommodation from Apple, the best Apple can hope for is that Comcast works with it to make sure that Comcast customers can use AppleTV the same way Time Warner Cable is enabling its customers to use the Roku box.