By Winny Sun
On March 25th, a group of Hollywood big names like Steven Spielberg and Octavia Spencer gathered on the Apple campus, bearing witness to the momentous announcement that the Silicon Valley giant will soon launch its own video streaming service.
Although there are currently few details available about the new plan, what Apple will launch is not the same as Netflix or Hulu. Instead, the company will focus on curating its own content and helping other streaming platforms sell subscriptions. For instance, Apple will sell a package of HBO and CBS programs to consumers and take a portion of the profits.
Since there are 1.4 billion Apple users around the world and most of them enroll in Apple services, the new initiative may very well succeed. This is definitely a smart move given that iPhone sales have slowed. But with so many competitors in the streaming industry, it’s uncertain if Apple will eventually take the lead.
There is already tension between Apple and Netflix. Apple used to charge a 15% commission fee for every Netflix sign-up, but later last year, the streaming giant stopped allowing new registrations through the iTunes Store. It’s no surprise that Netflix also opted out of Apple's new video streaming service, refusing to be sold in a bundle with other types of programming.
“Apple’s a great company. We want to have people watch our service — or our content on our service. And so we’ve chosen not to integrate into their service, because we prefer to have our customers watch our content in our service,” Netflix chief executive, Reed Hastings, said.
After the Disney-Fox merger, Disney is also in the process of designing its own streaming platform. On April 12th, Disney announced that the ad-free, subscription-based new streaming platform Disney+ will launch on November 12th. Featuring a slate of popular TV shows and movies, the service will only cost only $7 per month, a lower price point than Netflix. Disney is not the only threat; AT&T, which recently acquired Time Warner, will also launch a streaming service by the end of 2019.
But by removing blockbuster films from Netflix, media giants like Disney and Warner Media are missing out on potential licensing fees. So in the end, content is the most important domain to control. All of these add pressure to Netflix to produce even more exciting original content, but given the critical acclaim of the Netflix-produced film Roma this year, the feat is not at all impossible.
“That’s going to make it exciting for us," Hastings said. “It’s great for consumers. Incredible for producers. I mean there’s never been so much TV and movies being created around the world. So the game is on,” he added.