Last week, the Wall Street Journal published an extensive report that revealed the troublesome negotiation Apple had with content providers while trying to create a subscription TV service. The service was longed rumored, but up until this report we knew little about the actual details.
Amongst other things, the report revealed that Apple wanted to create a $40 a month subscription service with the best content providers to compete with companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable. This plan didn’t work, following the tough negotiations between Apple’s Eddy Cue and cable executives.
Apple’s backup plan was to turn the Apple TV into a cable box by making partnerships with the cable providers themselves. Apple reportedly told Comcast it wanted $10 per subscriber, and refused to show them any of the software or product.
It should’ve been no surprise to Apple that these negotiations fell through. The entertainment industry is knows for peskiness and unwillingness to negotiate. TV isn’t in a dire state yet. If Apple maybe waited three or four more years, they’d have more luck.
When Apple did finally launch the fourth generation, we were shown what we thought was ‘Plan C’ – “The Future of TV is Apps”. Apple spent a good segment of its September 2015 event explaining that by putting a functioning and thriving App Store on your TV, developers would be able to create the best content experience possible.
I, for one, had figured this was a backup message so they could get the TV out earlier, and once they got one of these deals together revert to Plan A or B. While that’s probably still the case, to some extent, recent news make it clear Apple may be taking this new plan even further.
Recode recently reported that Apple is working on a content guide for the Apple TV, except it will focus around Apps, not traditional channels.
In short, the future of TV isn’t apps, the future of apps is TV.
Apple is hoping to create a one-stop-shop guide that will let users view all their content they own, which would presumably only consist of content they like, and quickly and easily watch it without ever jumping into an app.
This concept really fall into the vision of the fourth generation Apple TV. Features like Universal Search and the upcoming single sign-on feature get rid of the barriers of apps and show content as content. If you turned on your TV and that TV show you were binge watching was on immediately were you left off, or your favorite baseball team’s game automatically airing live when you turn on your TV, wouldn’t that be revolutionary?
The guide is really a fantastic concept for the Apple TV. If executed correctly, Apple could create a true cable competitor, without ever signing a deal with anyone. Granted, there may be more money in a proper content deal, but cable executives are stingy and feel safe for now. What they really need is a true cable competitor to give them a kick and realize it may be time to start transitioning to newer platforms.