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Analysis for 'Apple'

  • VideoNuze Podcast #480: Stakes Keep Increasing for Apple’s Original Programming as Transactional Video Declines

    I’m pleased to present the 480th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    The stakes keep increasing for Apple’s original programming, as the company has reportedly upped its commitment to the initiative to $6 billion. As Colin and I discuss, the company is likely starting to realize just how much it will take to put its Apple TV+ SVOD service on the map. Colin suggests a studio acquisition may even be essential, and suggests possibly Sony Pictures.

    All this is unfolding against a rapidly declining transactional video market, in which Apple has been a key player, with consumer behavior moving to subscriptions.

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  • Low Price for Disney+ Puts the Squeeze on Apple TV+

    The biggest piece of news from last week’s Disney+ mega event was certainly the reveal of the service’s rate: just $7/month, or $70/year, and its implications for competitors, most notably Apple TV+.

    Back in September, 2017, just after Disney CEO Bob Iger announced Disney was shifting its strategy toward a direct to consumer (DTC) model, and gave a preview of the massive trove of Disney/other content that would be included, I wrote that success for the service would be highly dependent on its price.

    Would Disney+ be priced on the lower end of market expectations (I speculated about $10/month) to achieve strong adoption like Netflix has? Or would it be priced on the higher end (say $20-$25/month) in a market “skimming” approach like what HBO Now has followed? Given the money Disney would be foregoing in third-party distribution fees by going DTC, there was huge conflicting pressures on the pricing decision.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #460: Apple’s Video Initiatives Unlikely to Have a Big Impact Short-Term

    I’m pleased to present the 460th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Apple partially pulled back the curtain on its video strategy this past Monday. In today’s podcast Colin and I dig into what Apple revealed, weighing the pros and cons of the strategy.

    Apple is checking a bunch of boxes: bolster its TV app to try making it a hub for OTT viewers, enable third-party SVOD/premium TV subscriptions with Apple TV Channels, and tease its Apple TV+ SVOD/originals strategy with a bunch of A-list stars. It’s a start, but Apple is coming to video extremely late and Colin and I agree that all of the above taken together is unlikely to generate a lot of new services revenue in the short term with Apple facing a variety of challenges.

    But…Apple has unparalleled user experience DNA, deep pockets, huge flexibility in how it bundles its forthcoming SVOD service with others (i.e. music, games, news) and of course has a massive user base to build from. And Apple is playing the long game, as it must in the new post-iPhone, services-centric era.

    With Apple’s SVOD service, Disney+, WarnerMedia and who knows what else set to come to market in the next 6-8 months, it’s going to be a very busy year.

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  • Watching Apple’s Video Ambitions Unfold Is Going To Be A Great Hollywood Drama

    Well, we finally got some news from Apple about its video ambitions at its big media event today.

    Apple’s updated TV app harkens back to the same formula that propelled iTunes in the music industry nearly 16 years ago: the visually strong user experience, integration of well-known brands/artists, seamless transactions and multi-device access. iTunes made sense of a messy music landscape - delivering breakthrough music portability (with the iPod) and billions of much-needed revenue to the music industry.

    Apple clearly sees a similar opportunity to bring coherence and value to today’s fragmented video experience and to drive incremental revenue for the industry. Although the same company DNA is evident in the updated TV app, the challenges Apple faces in video are far greater.

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  • Corporate Priorities Test Creative Freedom In “Peak TV” Era

    Large corporations’ priorities are testing creative freedom as more shows than ever compete for attention in the “Peak TV” era and video becomes a critical C-level focus. Exhibit A is Apple, which according to a report yesterday from the NY Post, is vexing creators with an abundance of suggestions (or “notes” in industry parlance) on their shows. The notes, which apparently include some from CEO Tim Cook himself, tend to emphasize Apple’s desire to keep shows “family friendly.”

    The goal makes perfect sense; nothing is more important to Apple than its brand image. The prospect of seeing an “Apple Original” icon in the opening credits, followed by an opening scene including profanity, violence or nudity, would be a jarring juxtaposition. Yet this is the “Peak TV” world we now live in; with so many shows competing for viewers’ time, those that are most original and creative, and yes, often include attention-grabbing early scenes, stand out (for a point of reference recall that in the first minutes of Netflix’s “House of Cards” pilot, Kevin Spacey’s character puts a wounded dog out of its misery with his own hands).

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #450: Apple Struggles in the Connected TV Era

    I’m pleased to present the 450th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    At CES this week Apple unveiled partnerships with big TV manufacturers including Samsung, LG, Vizio and Sony. While these represent progress, as Colin and I discuss, Apple still finds itself at a disadvantage both in enabling TV-based viewing for its upcoming slate of original TV shows (which reportedly cost $1 billion) and in trying to become a Connected TV (CTV) leader.

    Colin and I dig into how others like Amazon, Netflix, Roku, etc. have succeeded in CTV, enabling their content to thrive. Conversely, we explore why Apple’s CTV presence has remained minimal, with the result now being limited viewer accessibility to its originals. Apple came into the CTV era with just about every advantage imaginable, but its “gilded cage” mentality has left it at the back of the pack of big tech companies forging into TV.

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  • Apple’s New Partnerships Are A Start, But A Lot More Is Needed To Support Originals

    Likely the most interesting news from CES this year is that Apple is finally partnering in meaningful ways with big TV manufacturers. Most notably, Apple is creating an exclusive iTunes app for certain Samsung smart TVs. It is also enabling AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support on certain Samsung, Vizio, LG and Sony smart TVs which means users can display content from their Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, Mac) on their big screens.

    Apple’s moves are certainly a nod to how important its services/content business is becoming. But 2019 is a huge year for Apple in defining its place in the content ecosystem, with a $1 billion reportedly allocated to create original TV shows. The business model for these shows has been shrouded in mystery, but several months ago, CNBC reported that the shows will actually be given away for free to Apple’s device owners as part of the TV app which will also include subscription options akin to Amazon Channels.

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  • Subscription Video Services Turn to Third Party Platforms for Growth

    Yesterday’s announcement by Roku, that it would begin offering SVOD and ad-free premium cable TV networks (what Roku calls “Premium Subscriptions”) within The Roku Channel, is the latest sign that subscription video services are turning to bigger third party platforms to add and retain paying subscribers. Despite all the industry excitement over direct-to-consumer (“DTC”) business models, third party distribution remains critical.

    Roku’s move evokes what Amazon has been doing with its Amazon Channels program for just over 3 years, which I've been bullish on from the beginning. Prime subscribers are able to choose from dozens of different small and large SVOD services and premium cable TV networks and have the fees billed directly to their credit card on file with Amazon. Free trials are commonplace and the content is viewed seamlessly within the Prime Video app on multiple devices.

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  • Mystery Solved: Apple Will Give Away $1 Billion of Original Programming

    The mystery of how Apple will monetize its $1 billion investment in original TV programming is finally solved. The answer is it won’t. Instead Apple will give its content away for free to its device owners, as part of its TV app, alongside the ability for users to subscribe to SVOD services, in a manner akin to how Amazon Channels works. I have speculated frequently over the past 21 months what Apple would do to monetize its huge content investment (here, here, here).

    The update was reported by CNBC yesterday, coincidentally just a day after Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said at the VF New Establishment Summit that no one, not even the people making Apple’s shows knew how the content will be offered. After almost 2 years of radio silence from Apple on how it would monetize its programming and endless rumors, it seems as though following Sarandos’s comments Apple may have finally felt compelled to leak some initial information.

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  • Can Apple’s Family-Friendly Originals Strategy Succeed?

    A fascinating article in the WSJ over the weekend described the lengths to which Apple is going to maintain a family-friendly strategy for its original TV shows. The article describes how CEO Tim Cook personally screened “Vital Signs” about Dr. Dre and nixed it for being too violent. It also says that producers Jamie Erlicht and Zach Van Amburg, whom Apple hired in June, 2017, spend significant time winning approval from Cook and SVP Eddy Cue for any new projects.

    None of this is surprising, as Apple seeks to balance its desire to move into the entertainment business while not causing any damage to its gold-plated brand. Where a TV network can cultivate creativity and push the envelope with a new show with little downside, Apple risks harming sales of its devices if audiences feel an Apple original is discordant with the company’s brand.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #425: AT&T Disrupts TV, World Cup Streaming Surges and More

    I’m pleased to present the 425th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On this week’s podcast we cover a number of topics, starting with AT&T’s newest skinny bundle offering, WatchTV, which is bonus feature for subscribers to 2 of its new unlimited wireless plans. Colin and discuss the implications for the industry as AT&T reshapes consumers’ perceptions of pay-TV as a standalone premium service to a supporting feature in their wireless plan.

    We then turn to the World Cup, which is setting streaming records, even in the early matches. Colin shares the data and his personal experiences on quality, which have been very positive.

    Next, we touch on Apple’s latest high-profile content deals, with Oprah Winfrey and Sesame Workshop. Apple’s continuing to spend through the $1 billion it allocated, but we still wonder, how is this A-list content going to be distributed and monetized? Finally we review Instagram’s new long-form video service, IGTV, which was announced this week. We’re both excited about its prospects, particularly relative to Facebook’s other video initiatives, which have been all over the board.

    Listen in to learn more!

     
    Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 25 seconds)



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  • VideoNuze Podcast #423: Apple and Amazon Help Pay-TV Operators. Wait, What?

    I’m pleased to present the 423rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Apple and Amazon aren’t two companies that come to mind for helping traditional pay-TV operators, but this week brought news of both doing exactly that. Apple announced at its WWDC the integration of Charter’s Spectrum app in Apple TV that will allow users to gain “zero sign-on” access to the app’s content. Other operators have made their apps available on connected TV devices, but this was a first for Apple TV.

    Then Amazon announced its Fire TV Cube, a mashup of Echo and Fire TV that also aspires to control your entertainment center. The device includes IR blasters to provide limited control over existing set-top boxes, a rare instance where Amazon is looking to help a prior technology rather than disrupt it.

    Colin and I discuss both moves, as well as the broader context that we see for the “appification of TV.” This is already happening with vMVPDs and we expect over the next couple years all major pay-TV operators will have apps for their services available on all major CTVs. For consumers this will be a huge win as they can avoid renting often outdated and expensive set-tops.

    (Note, Colin will be moderating the “Connected TV’s Ad-Supported Future” panel at the VideoNuze Online Video Ad Summit on Tuesday. Register now!)

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    Click here to listen to the podcast (24 minutes, 44 seconds)


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  • VideoNuze Podcast #419: New Connected TV Research, Roku’s Q1 Results; Apple Video Subscriptions

    I’m pleased to present the 419th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. We’re grateful to this week’s podcast sponsor, Ad-ID, which is the standard for identifying advertising assets. This week, Ad-ID, Extreme Reach, Adstream, and the IAB Tech Lab, released a paper about ad clouds and a universal asset identifier.

    (Apologies that our audio quality is a little choppy this week)

    First up, Colin discusses highlights from his new report, The Secret Life of Streamers, Part II, which details the rise of connected TV usage, especially in primetime. Colin shares some of the key data points, including how PC viewing has been eclipsed in the past year and how viewership patterns vary by country.

    Speaking of CTV usage, Roku reported a very strong Q1 ’18 earlier this week, with Platform revenues (which includes advertising and licensing), edging ahead of device sales for the first time. With Platform’s higher margins, Roku’s overall financial performance improved as well. We dig into the details.

    Finally, we touch on this week’s Bloomberg report that Apple may enable video subscriptions in its TV app. It seems like a smart move to both of us, though very late, given Amazon has been in market with its Channels program since 2015.

    Listen in to learn more!

     
    Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 25 seconds)



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  • Apple’s Plan to Offer Video Subscriptions Would Be Smart, But Way Late

    Bloomberg reported yesterday that Apple may enable video subscriptions within its TV app, which is available across iOS devices and Apple TV. It would be a smart, although very late, move by Apple to horn in on the video subscription boom. And Bloomberg correctly characterized it as an apparent copycat effort by Apple to emulate what Amazon has been doing with its Channels program since it originally launched way back in December, 2015 as the Streaming Partners Program.

    If you haven’t used Apple’s TV app, it allows single sign-on access to many cable and broadcast TV Everywhere apps, which would otherwise need to be individually authenticated, cross-app browsing, search and recommendations and multi-platform viewing. For people with an Apple TV in particular, it’s a handy app that aggregates a lot of content (including what you’ve purchased from iTunes) and in typical Apple style, presents it in a nice interface.

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  • How is Apple Going to Monetize Its Expensive New TV Shows?

    It’s been exactly a year since the WSJ reported that Apple was planning to invest in original TV programs and movies. And sure enough, as 2017 unfolded, the company unveiled a plan to spend a $1 billion on programming, hired top Hollywood executives, and announced its first few programs.

    Yesterday, Apple continued its streak, with a straight-to-series order for “See” a drama from Chernin Entertainment and Endeavor Content including “Peaky Blinders” creator Steven Knight and “Hunger Games” director Francis Lawrence. That’s on top of 3 prior programs from A-listers Jennifer Anniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steven Spielberg, Bryan Fuller and Ronald D. Moore that were previously announced.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #400: The Top 10 Online Video Stories of 2017

    I'm pleased to present the 400th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    In this week’s podcast Colin and I discuss our top 10 online video stories of 2017. It’s been another incredibly busy year with tons of industry innovation and progress. As always, it has been a lot of fun to analyze all of this and report on it. Let us know what you think of our choices, whether you agree or disagree!

    Listen in to learn more!
     
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    Unless there’s some big news, this will be my last post for 2017.

    Happy Holidays to all!

     
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  • VideoNuze Podcast #384: Rounding Up the Week’s Top News

    I’m pleased to present the 384th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On today’s podcast, Colin and I first discuss Q2 ’17 pay-TV video subscriber results. Skinny bundles played a big part in offsetting accelerating losses in traditional multichannel services. Will this continue and if so what are the implications?

    We then dig into the DVD market’s decline which was further accelerated this week when Amazon decided to close down its LOVEFiLM DVD-by-mail business in several European countries. Colin notes that Netflix’s DVD business has had a huge drop-off also and he speculates whether it too might get cut loose. On the bright side, Redbox re-upped its deal with Lionsgate, showing that DVDs still have a bit of life left.

    Finally, Apple was back in the news this week, reportedly allocating $1 billion for original TV shows. We speculate on whether this will be successful and what challenges Apple will face.

    Listen in to learn more!
     
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  • Apple Plans to Spend a Billion Dollars on Video, But to What End?

    The WSJ is reporting this morning that Apple has created a budget of $1 billion for original content for the next year, to be managed by Zach Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, two high-profile producers Apple lured from Sony in June to head up its video efforts.

    While details are light (as they always are), the report said Apple could use the funds to acquire and/or produce up to 10 TV shows either to be included in its Apple Music service or in a new standalone video service. The report said that Van Hamburg and Erlicht have “begun meeting with Hollywood agents and holding discussions about shows Apple could acquire.” Another industry executive, Matt Cherniss, previously president of WGN America, has been brought on to run development.

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  • How Comcast Has Eaten Into Apple’s Movie Rentals/Purchase Dominance

    An article in the WSJ over the weekend “Apple’s iTunes Falls Short in Battle for Video Viewers” caught my attention for a number of reasons, not least of which it touched on how quickly Comcast has succeeded in growing its market share in digital movie rentals and downloads.

    While iTunes is estimated to still hold the market share lead in the digital movie rental and purchase industry with a share of between 20% to 35%, that’s down from over 50% in 2012. The article notes that Amazon’s share is now up to around 20% and Comcast’s is at 15%. For Amazon, video rentals and purchases represent another way it leverages its e-commerce expertise. Rentals/purchases are also very complementary to Amazon’s Prime Video service. In many ways, there’s nothing surprising at all about how Amazon has taken a bite out of Apple’s market share.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #376: Proving Value of Streaming Quality; Apple’s Video Mystery

    I’m pleased to present the 376th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we start by discussing research Akamai released this week with Sensum, proving in how streaming video delivered in high quality results in improved satisfaction. Colin and I wrote about it here and here. It’s further evidence of how viewers’ expectations have been set by TV’s quality. Viewers clearly react to quality deficiencies.

    Then we transition to talking about Apple and its hiring late last week of 2 producers who were formerly presidents of Sony Pictures Television. On Monday I wrote how this is a positive step, but still missing was any sense of Apple’s overall video strategy or business model. We debate what Apple might do, and also wonder about what private assurance may have been given to the producers to induce them to move to Apple.

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