Time Warner Cable Inc is among the cable networks that the iPhone maker is in talks with, but it has not yet reached a deal, the sources told the Journal.
Apple had considered building a cable set-top box two years ago but former Chief Executive Steve Jobs did not go ahead with the idea, saying most operators lacked national reach, the sources told the newspaper.
Apple already sells a $99 set-top box called Apple TV that streams Netflix and other content.
It has not been confirmed if the set-top box would use the same hardware as Apple TV or an upgraded box, the newspaper said.
The technology might be embedded in a television, the sources told the Journal.
Apple and Time Warner were not immediately available for comment.