While the lions, tigers and bears of the entertainment content industry duke it out for audience dominance, Apple is looking to position itself as the TV guide interface that will represent them for the ultimate user experience. A similar strategy to what Apple did with the music industry years ago.
Some reports claim that Apple doesn’t have the ‘power’ it once did to convince the studios to go with their one size fits all monthly subscription plan. Other reports claim that Apple should have done this years ago, rather than focusing their attention on trying to reinvent the TV or develop their own streaming media service. Yet, some say Apple wants to eventually make arrangements to buy a movie studio, which Senior VP of Apple, Eddy Cue passes off as something they simply aren’t currently interested in doing.
Rumors are only getting stronger in terms of Apple getting into the entertainment arena as phone sales are apparently slowing down and the Apple watch wasn’t the massive hit the company had hoped it would become. There are even a few original shows getting launched in the near future such as Planet of the Apps featuring actress Gwyneth Paltrow and musical artist will.i.am and a ton of speculation surrounding what Dr. Dre is cooking up for a series Apple is backing, revolving around music.
In the Hollywood Reporter, Senior VP Eddy Cue has gone on record stating that, “We are only going into the content business with projects that we think are really tied to our products. Right now, that’s Apple Music. The rest of it is about giving talent a platform that allows them to be creative in new ways. If I was an agent, I would be very, very excited about what Apple is doing because it lets the people who I represent be able to do more.”
Major entertainment companies are investing big in original content programming. Studios, streaming media giants and cable networks are pouring billions into their own original storytelling. In 2016 alone, Netflix has an investment of $4.8 billion, only a couple years back you were looking at $6.8 billion with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu combined. This year Disney is also investing $2.8 billion, Time Warner $4.5 billion, Fox and Viacom will hit $3.8 billion and Discovery with $2 billion.
Hulu, which has slowly been maneuvering its content to a pay subscription model and officially announced today that it will be taking away their free TV stream model and going for a more subscription based pay to play model, at $7.99 with ads and $11.99 without ads. Hulu is jointly owned by Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox, NBC Universal and Time Warner who increased an additional investment into the company with an additional 10% just last week.
It’s no surprise that such traditional oriented entertainment companies want to own their own streaming company, especially when competing with the likes of Netflix (45 million users in the U.S) and Amazon Prime who is quickly rising up in the streaming ranks and also has a war treasure chest of billions. Perhaps Hulu finally has enough footing with audience numbers (14 million) and financial backing to go stronger with their subscription based model now and help add its own additional original programming. Besides, Time Warner was never very fond of Hulu’s freemium ad strategy.
Apple seems to want to sit back and watch the big player combat while they offer a TV guide interface that will supposedly make everyone happy, including Apple. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to be the singular TV guide interface for ALL the content media players in the world?
Movie studios balked last week when the pitch was made by Eddy Cue, offering a $30 per month subscription service, without having the programming subs go up ‘slightly’ each year by putting a freeze on that model for content owners. Studios weren’t really excited about the pitch, especially when it puts them in an awkward position with the cable companies they’ve been doing business with for years.
Apple is looking to disrupt the TV industry by possibly starting off with a TV guide. Will they eventually create more original series content outside of their existing products? Maybe. Maybe, not.
If Apple works out the arrangement with content providers, it will give Apple enormous strength in the entertainment industry, without spending billions of dollars to do so. The lions, tigers and bears may not want to give that much authority to one company.
You never know, maybe Google has their own digital TV guide in the works, too.