Monday, 30th October 2017

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Apple is expected to enter the video streaming space on March 25

It is eyeing star power to launch its Netflix-style streaming service

  • Published 15.03.19, 8:03 PM
  • Updated 15.03.19, 8:06 PM
  • 2 mins read
Disney’s Bob Iger with Apple’s Tim Cook in 2016. AP

Apple is planning to rain Hollywood all over the world. The Cupertino-HQed tech giant has sent out invitations — with a single-line description: “It’s show time.” — for a March 25 event where it would reportedly unveil its video service. At stake is at least a $1 billion, which, of course, may not seem a lot for a company that’s worth several hundred billion dollars. Nonetheless, change is coming.

What do we know about it?

Besides a big budget, Apple has recruited projects from biggies like Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Reese Witherspoon and M. Night Shyamalan. As tight-lipped as ever, all that the company has said is through its CEO, Tim Cook, during a recent earnings call: “We will participate in the original content world. We have signed a multiyear partnership with Oprah. But today, I’m not ready to extend that conversation beyond that point. We’ve hired some great people that I have a super amount of confidence in and they’re working really hard and we’ll have something to say more on that later.”

According to a recent report from Reuters, besides producing its own content, the service may resell subscriptions from CBS Corp, Viacom Inc and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp’s Starz among others. This is huge because the event is likely to be Apple’s first major media event in which hardware is not the primary focus.

TV is something that’s not new for Apple. Steve Jobs had talked about how he had “finally cracked” how to create a connected iTV set in 2011 but the plan never materialised following his death a year later. Analysts have speculated for years that Apple would move into the living room but it didn’t happen. Jobs himself once referred to it as a “hobby”.

What Apple did manage are two original video series — Planet of the Apps and a spinoff of Carpool Karaoke — on its music subscription service, Apple Music. 

Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg at the Hundred-Foot Journey premiere in 2014.
Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg at the Hundred-Foot Journey premiere in 2014. AP

Will I get to watch it?

No announcement has been made but according to a few reports, Apple plans to launch the service in the US followed by an expansion to more than 100 countries. In an article from CNET, Rich Greenfield, an analyst for BTIG, has said that he believes Apple will give its $1 billion in programming away for free. If you own an Apple device, Greenfield anticipates Apple will provide free access to all these productions in the TV app on iOS or Apple TV. On the other end of the spectrum is industry expert Dan Ives who has told The Sun that Apple’s streaming service would be “priced competitive, or cheaper than Netflix’s monthly service”.

Where does it fit in?

The service will launch at a time when Disney is also talking about its streaming service, Disney+, which will open the famous Disney vault. During a recent investor meeting in St. Louis, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger announced: “The service... is going to combine what we call library product, movies, and television, with a lot of original product as well, movies and television.” He added: “And then, of course, we’re producing a number of original movies and original television shows as well that will be Disney-branded.” This means the recent Captain Marvel, will also be available for streaming. And this also means that Disney will mostly disappear from Netflix by late 2019.

Also, one must not forget that Facebook continues to invest in original video for the Watch section of its app.

Why the move?

More original video content means people would buy more iPhones and other gadgets.