Apple has been flailing around for years trying to put together some sort of television bundle. Now a new report from Recode indicates that Apple may try to bundle HBO, Starz, and Showtime together into a premium bundle.
Peter Kafka reports for Recode:
Here’s Apple’s latest proposal: It wants to sell consumers a premium TV bundle, which combines HBO, Showtime and Starz.
Apple already sells each of those channels individually. But it has approached the three networks about rolling them up into a single package, as conventional pay TV operators sometimes do.
The difference: Traditional pay TV operators, like Charter, usually require consumers to subscribe to a basic level of TV channels before it will sell them a premium bundle. Apple could sell the bundle as standalone product, delivered via its iOS devices and its Apple TV settop box.
Apple doesn’t have a bundle deal in place with any of the premium networks, industry sources say.
More at Recode
I have no doubt that this will go down in flames, just like Apple’s previous efforts at creating a TV bundle. I can’t see the value to consumers or to HBO, Showtime or Starz. It seems like Apple is grasping at straws yet again in a desperate effort to push out some sort of video subscription service.
Who would want to subscribe to all three of these services as a bundle? Most people just want to watch a particular show or movie. So wouldn’t it make more sense to just buy the show on iTunes instead of paying for an ongoing subscription? Or just subscribe to the service that offers the movies or TV show that you want to watch?
HBO, Showtime and Starz would probably not want their individual brand identities diluted down and conflated with each other. I can only imagine what the marketing teams from each service would say about Apple’s idea of a premium bundle of all three.
Clueless baby boomers running Apple?
Apple, alas, is utterly clueless and is still stuck on the idea of “channels.” Why would anybody want to buy these three channels as a bundle in the first place? Who cares about channels? It’s the content that matters.
Most people these days just want to watch their favorite TV shows or movies, they don’t want to watch a channel. Yet Apple still seems focused on a channels-based video subscription service.
I can’t help but wonder if the focus on channels has something to do with the fact that baby boomers like Tim Cook, Eddy Cue, etc. are the folks running Apple. People their age grew up watching channels based TV, but for today’s younger viewers channels are a relic of a bygone era.
Apple would do better to offer a Netflix/Amazon Prime type subscription service that offered a great selection of movies and TV shows, without any kind of channels. Such a service would finally let Apple compete with Amazon and Netflix’s streaming services in a direct way.
But nope, that’s not what Apple seems to want to do. So the company wastes even more time while Amazon and Netflix keep churning out more popular original programming. Such programming helps Apple’s competitors attract more and more subscribers, while Apple sits on its rear end and does nothing.
What about all the TV shows and movies on iTunes?
Apple’s decision to remain focused on channels is particularly odd given all of the television shows and movies available on iTunes. Why doesn’t the company just license as much of that content as possible and roll it into an Apple version of Netflix or Amazon Prime Video?
I’m sure that Apple would not be able to get all of the movies and TV shows from iTunes into a new video service. No doubt some of the companies that own the content would balk at licensing it to Apple for such a service.
But at least some of the content owners would probably want to work with Apple if the money was right. Apple could also take a clue from Amazon and offer older content via its video service, with the option to buy newer episodes of TV shows via iTunes, the same way Amazon does with Prime Video.
And, as I noted above, Apple could also create its own library of original programming for such a service. Netflix and Amazon have proven it can be done, and Apple has far more money than both of those companies combined. So why not follow in their footsteps while licensing as much content from iTunes as possible?
It’s beyond me why Apple seems to ignore the potential of iTunes while instead opting to try to recreate the failing cable TV business model. But it definitely shows that Apple’s aging management team remains out to lunch on what modern viewers want from a streaming service.
What people are saying about Apple’s premium TV bundle
The news about Apple considering a bundle of Starz, HBO and Showtime caught the attention of the folks in the MacRumors forum. They didn’t pull any punches while sharing their thoughts, so I’ll leave you with this selection of comments from a recent thread:
Sfwalter: “Great a bundle of channels I have no interest in purchasing.”
Chriscrowlee: “I don’t get it. I guess some people still think HBO and Showtime show new movies. Guess it’s the grasping at straws to salvage a few dollars out of a failing industry before it’s gone forever. I think it’s smart for Apple because they’ll probably partner and offer a free or discounted trial, and there’s no downside for Apple because it costs them nothing, yet they share in the revenue.
If only Apple put as much effort into developing quality products as they put into skimming cents on the dollar off app sales, subscription sales, and payment processing. I remember when Apple offered great laptops and desktops, routers, displays, etc… as well as amazing service in retail and online. What happened? The service model will only work as long as people stay hooked to the ecosystem with iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac… and they are losing marketshare in all of these categories, so much like the growth took several years to ramp as their product popularity gained, but in a couple years the same service revenue will wane as the popularity of their products shrinks.
Sadly Apple’s ecosystem only works as a hook if a customer is 100% all in. The second someone leaves the ecosystem with even one category (laptop, desktop, tablet, phone, tv), it removes the “stickiness” of the ecosystem, since it’s rendered useless with one product defection. ”
Capandjudy: “There are very few programs that are not a waste of time. I really see little value in the so called “premium channels” except the lack of commercials. I’m totally not interested.”
Tennisproha: “What puzzles me is how Apple is sitting on a gold mine with the virtually complete collection of TV shows and movies they have in iTunes. They could just renegotiate those contracts and offer iTunes as a monthly subscription. It’s the motherload of catalogues. They could wipe the competition clean, except for Netflix and Amazon original programming.”
Stevez67: “Bundle = cord and I cut the cord. So how is paying for a “bundle” of garbage channels different just because it’s delivered over the internet? No thanks.”
Furi0usbee: “Even channels/networks are living in the 20th century. I only want to pay for content. I don’t want AMC, I just want the one or two shows that I watch. When the current generation who pays for cable dies out, these companies better have something better than a bundle, or they are going down.”
EdT: “Considering Apple’s record so far negotiating with other companies for video content, don’t hold your breath.”
Denmac1: “IMHO, it appears that Cook & Cue do not have the ability to negotiate like Jobs did. Now they’re just throwing whatever sticks to the wall. I don’t have time to wade through all the stuff that’s out there, so no need for me to take bundled packages.”
Ries: “TV channels? Wouldn’t even watch them if they were free. On-demand and commercial free or GTFO.”
More at the MacRumors Forum
Did you miss a post? Check the Eye On Apple home page to get caught up with the latest news, discussions and rumors about Apple.