Three Thoughts from Apple’s Video Announcements – 3.25.19

by Brett Sappington | Mar. 25, 2019

After whipping up interest and expectations, Apple announced a number of new services and service oriented features, including Apple News+, Apple Card, Apple Arcade, Apple TV Channels, Apple TV+, and a new Apple TV app. While Apple’s entry into print aggregation and financial services is interesting (particularly financial services), here are three thoughts on their video-related activities.

Apple is betting big on original content. Almost one-half of Apple’s entire presentation time was spent on Apple highlighting the original content that will be part of its new SVOD service. Several big names took the stage (or video presentation) to discuss their Apple-bound projects, including Reese Witherspoon, JJ Abrams, Oprah, Big Bird, Ron Howard, and Steven Spielberg. Apple clearly understands that it will need one or more big, high profile hits to win consumer viewing time away from other video options (or Fortnite, for that matter).

Apple is not getting into the pay-TV business. Apple has opted not to launch its own vMVPD service. Rather, Apple’s plans for pay-TV involve its Apple TV app serving as a universal discovery hub for video. Subscribers of Spectrum, DIRECTV, Optimum, Hulu with Live TV, Fubo TV, and PlayStation Vue will be able to access their live channels and sports through the Apple TV app alongside content from several SVOD services, apparently including Prime Video and Hulu. Given the success of many players in the vMVPD space, Apple may have had a difficult time differentiating itself. In addition, a vMVPD service would likely have been a US-only service, whereas Apple TV+ is planned as a globally-available service.

Apple expects universal access and discovery to be its killer app. Interestingly, Apple TV Channels (Apple’s version of Amazon Channels) received far less presentation time than either Apple TV+ or the Apple TV app. Likely, Apple is relying on the Apple TV app to be the differentiating factor, providing universal discovery from multiple OTT video services across screens and devices, including smart TVs, Roku, and Fire TV. Switching between apps remains a challenge for consumers, but the omission of Netflix means that Apple’s vision of a single app to rule them all is closer, but still unrealized.

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Tags: OTT, streaming

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