For years analysts had argued that Apple should’ve acquired Netflix, but Apple meandered along with iTunes movies as a rental and purchase service. But finally last night the sleeping giant of the entertainment industry woke up. Apple announced a new TV app which works not across all its devices, but also on gadgets of known rivals whilst also announcing its foray into original programming taking on the likes of Netflix to reinvent television. Despite being late to the game, Apple announced some interesting and commendable deals which could help it achieve its mission.
- The new TV app is perhaps a bigger deal because it pulls content from the likes of HBO, Showtime, Starz and CBS All Access apart from tapping into streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and Hulu in the US and Canal+ in Europe. Netflix for obvious reasons isn’t there, but then again Apple may not even need it.
- Considering it is launching in 150 plus countries including India, one should imagine, in India, it will also get HotStar onboard as it is owned by Disney like Hulu in the US. Between Prime Video, Hotstar and its own content, Apple will have a very compelling baseline even in a market like India for its user base. This also means that Disney’s inbound streaming service could also integrate with the Apple TV app.
- The fact that it managed to have the likes of Steven Spielberg, JJ Abrams, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Momoa and Oprah Winfrey, there is enough evidence that the world’s best creators will be more than happy working with Apple. Spielberg has been a staunch critic of Netflix movies getting nominated for the Oscars but here he was on the stage at the Steve Jobs theatre announcing his take on Amazing Stories for Apple TV+.
- Despite a lowly budget of $1 billion for original programming, Apple has hedged its bets cleverly and has positioned itself in a way that it could corner Netflix if it gets all the right partners on-board. Remember, Netflix is losing rights to all Disney content. Apple is best friends with Disney. Its founder Steve Jobs was on its board when he sold Pixar to Disney. It will be very unlikely that Apple and Disney don’t join hands.
- Apple has been pragmatic enough to partner with Samsung, Sony, Vizio and LG for AirPlay 2 integration for the Apple TV app on their smart TVs. It has even managed to convince Amazon to put the Apple TV app on the Fire TV, apart from Roku. The Fire TV integration will particularly bring Apple’s new service to masses who don’t use Apple hardware.
- Apple’s ecosystem of 1.4 billion iOS devices plus Macs give it an unmatched distribution network. It is the very same strategy that’s allowed Apple Music to rapidly catch up to Spotify with 50 million customers in just 3.5 years. Cracking TV will be harder than beating Spotify, but you’d be stupid to bet against the world’s richest company which is also the darling of creators.