October 24, 2018
Apple is reportedly planning to introduce its subscription streaming television service in more than 100 countries during the first half of next year. Such a global launch could help make Apple a serious competitor with established services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video that already have an international presence. The service is expected to offer original programming free to iOS device owners while allowing users to sign up for third party services and TV network subscriptions. It will launch in the U.S. a few months prior to the global rollout.
“The service, which may exist as a standalone app or within the existing TV app,” notes The Verge, “will feature a mix of original programming, access to third-party services, and the ability to subscribe directly to channel packages offered by network and cable providers, similar to Amazon’s Channels feature.”
Three insiders told The Information about the planned launch, suggesting the app would offer the ability to sign up for services from other companies, “just as Amazon Prime Video subscribers can do through the Amazon Channels feature in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan.”
News of Apple’s plans to offer outside subscription services via its app surfaced earlier this year. “For the first time, Apple plans to begin selling subscriptions to certain video services directly via its TV app, rather than asking users to subscribe to them through apps individually downloaded from the App Store,” explained Bloomberg in May.
“This would simplify the process and bolster Apple’s TV app on Apple TV, iPhones and iPads, making it a central place for people to find, watch, and buy content. It would also be another way for Apple to keep boosting its services business, which it expects to generate $50 billion a year in revenue by 2021.”
Apple’s previous attempts in this space have “been less successful than competitors like Amazon and Netflix,” according to The Verge, largely “due to complex licensing deals and media conglomerates’ tight control on pricing and bundling.”
This could change with the release of an official streaming TV service, since it will offer free content to Apple device owners and serve as the interface for its Apple TV line. However, its adoption could possibly be impacted if Apple does not allow the software to exist outside of its own hardware ecosystem.
Netflix and Amazon “exist as mobile apps, built-in native smart TV apps, and streaming set-top box apps,” The Verge notes. “In the case of Amazon, which produces the Fire TV line, its software is the entire home interface on its devices. That means consumers have numerous access points to Prime Video and Netflix, while Apple will necessarily limit its own service’s reach. Still, this mirrors Apple’s approach to many of its other hardware and software products, and it could prove to be irrelevant if the company’s free service gets millions of iOS and Apple TV users signing in.”