Much has been written about Apple working toward the release of a "cable killer" television bundle. The latest reports seem to indicate that Apple is close to a deal with the networks and their local affiliates to provide a bundle of TV programming centered around broadcast channels.
But does it really make sense for Apple to focus its efforts on broadcast television programming? I don't think it does and I'll tell you why in this post. But before I get into it, here's a snippet of a recent report in the NY Post about Apple and the broadcast networks:
Claire Atkinson reports for the NY Post:
The Cupertino, Calif., tech firm is making broadcast networks the centerpiece of its cable-killer TV app — and talks with all four networks are rapidly gaining momentum, The Post has learned. “The platform is ready and it rocks,” said one source.
Apple’s discussions with ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox initially foundered over the tech giant’s desire to offer on the soon-to-launch service local live TV feeds streamed on any Apple device, sources said.
But networks don’t control affiliate feeds. So Apple CEO Tim Cook’s team asked the networks to obtain those rights — instead of having Apple chase those rights around the country itself. The networks are close to having the right to negotiate with Apple on behalf of their affiliates, the sources added.
Disney or CBS will likely sign the first deal with Apple to get the so-called skinny bundle off the ground — though a host of other hurdles remain, the sources suggest. One of those obstacles could be Apple’s insistence that TV partners give up 30 percent of the subscription fee if users buy it in the App Store.
Where is Apple's version of Netflix?
While I think it's laudable that Apple is trying to offer a television programming package that offers an alternative to cable TV, I'm somewhat perplexed about why the company is focusing its efforts around broadcast TV content. Are there that many people who still watch television shows via broadcast network channels?
I'd have thought that something called "Apple Flix" would be a better bet for Apple. I'm a Netflix subscriber and while I really like the service, I'm very curious to see what an Apple alternative would look like. It's something I would definitely subscribe to if the price was right and it had enough content to be competitive with Netflix.
Maybe I'm a bit ahead of the curve because I dumped cable and broadcast TV years ago. I don't even own a television set at this point, I just watch Netflix on my iMac, iPhone or iPad when I want to watch TV shows or movies. It's hard for me to believe that many people would want to go backward and pay for an Apple version of broadcast or cable TV channels.
Who cares about TV channels in the 21st century?
Do people really still think of TV shows and movies in terms of channels? I have no interest in paying Apple to watch a bundle of broadcast or cable TV channels. In fact I loathe the entire idea of "channels" after having Netflix for so long, I can't imagine going back to that sort of mindset.
Channels seem to me to be an outdated way of organizing and viewing television shows and movies. I tend to think of content in terms of the shows I watch, not a network or channel. Channels are something out of the 20th century, not the 21st.
I'll make an exception on my dislike for channels when it comes to sports programming. Obviously something like ESPN has a special focus that isn't easily segmented into individual shows the way a TV show or movie is on Netflix. But aside from sports (and perhaps local news...but then again you can get local news on the Web), who really needs channels these days?
Apple should take heed of why Netflix is so popular
Apple is obviously aware of the attractiveness of streaming content for consumers. I moved away from buying TV shows and movies on iTunes years ago in favor of Netflix, and I'm sure Apple has noticed this trend among its customers. But the company doesn't seem to understand why Netflix is so much better than broadcast or cable television. There are no commercials on Netflix, and of course you watch whatever shows you want whenever you want.
It seems bizarre to me that Apple is focusing on repurposing advertising-laden TV content into its new service. Why not skip that entirely and move to the Netflix model? Perhaps the company will end up doing a blend of the two? Details on just what Apple will finally offer are still unclear, but the recent reports about network programming taking center stage leave me scratching my head.
Come on Apple, it's way past time for you to offer us Apple Flix.
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