Apple is getting ready to introduce a new television experience. Multiple sources, including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, say Apple will soon introduce a new streaming service that offers about 25 channels from the likes of ABC and Fox for $US30 to $US40 a month.
It might debut at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which starts June 8.
We’re still not sure what Apple’s streaming service will look or feel like, but it would be wise to take a cue from Netflix, one of the most popular streaming services out there.
Netflix doesn’t always have the best or most popular movies, but people love Netflix because they can watch as much as they want without repeatedly taking out their wallets.
And that’s the key.
Apple doesn’t have Netflix, but it has its own secret weapon: iTunes.
Tons of people already use iTunes — it’s the most popular media player in the world for storing music, movies, and TV shows — and it also houses the biggest multimedia vendor in the world in the iTunes Store.
The iTunes Store has almost every new movie and TV show you could think of, but there’s one major problem: Its pricing structure is downright medieval.
Most new movies from the iTunes Store still cost around $US5 to rent or $US20 to own. And when you rent a movie, you only have 24 hours to finish it once you’ve started playing it.
Compare that to Netflix, which lets you watch as many movies as you want, as many times as you want, at a much more reasonable price of $US8 a month. It’s easy to see why Netflix is a clear winner in the streaming age.
Netflix gets its content by paying companies a set amount of money to licence movies and TV shows for a certain period of time. The iTunes Store licensing structure is centered around pay-per-view: People buy or rent your content, and you get a percentage of that pie.
But let’s assume Apple can do everything Netflix can, and then some, since it has much deeper pockets. Apple could persuade content makers and distributors to be paid a flat fee — probably higher than what Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu Plus offers — to offer their movies and TV shows for a set period of time on their new streaming service. All that, plus live TV, could be a game changer.
What would iTunes look like with a Netflix model?
Imagine this: For $US15 to $US20 a month, you get total access to the iTunes Store — on any device, be it an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV. You can stream all the new movies and TV shows right after they air, and you can watch them as many times as you want. No more rental rules and restrictions.
The added incentive for the new Apple TV would be the ability to get live TV for an extra $US30 to $US40, where the same rules would apply: You can watch new or old episodes from certain channels at any time you want, including sporting events, as many times as you want, ideally with no commercial interruptions.
The iTunes Store proved an excellent deterrent to online piracy when it debuted back in 2003, but in the age of Spotify and Netflix, it’s all about being able to endlessly binge on streaming content at a fair, set price. So it’s time for iTunes to become less of a “Store” and more of a “Service.”
If the new Apple TV had these subscription offerings — plus a slick new remote, which The New York Times reports is in the works — I know I’d buy one.