Apple’s new subscription TV service is reportedly arriving in the fall, offering around 25 channels for between $US25 and $US40 per month, according to The Wall Street Journal.
To expand the new Apple TV internationally, Apple would need to negotiate separate carriage deals in each individual region, which means it could take some time before it becomes available outside the US. But it’s nonetheless interesting that Apple has reportedly already won over networks who were previously extremely protective of handing their content to tech companies (One of the reasons the original Apple TV box never really hit it off was because there was so little quality content on it.)
We asked a bunch of high-profile European TV executives who were on a panel about the future of TV at The Guardian’s Changing Media Summit in London this week what they thought about the impending launch of Apple TV, which has the potential to dropkick cable off the park. Overall, they’re quite excited.
Philip O’Ferrall, senior vice president of Viacom International Media Networks
We don’t know the exact model: Is it another Netflix, or another Sky? Either way, it’s wonderful for everyone involved. If it’s another Sky — they have our shows on too.
And don’t underestimate people watching content on watches. Twenty years ago [there was a theory] that your Sky card would be your connection and you could plug it into the TV when you go around your mate’s house. Equally that could come from your watch.
The principle talked about 20 years ago is still the same, you have to create content for the big screen first, and then take derivatives from the big screen. You have to invest to make amazing content or you won’t be able to pay talent, someone else will pay, and therefore you will fail.
The other key point is windowing [“windows” in the TV business refers to when a show is first aired, then when it is agreed it can appear on catch-up TV, DVD distribution, and so on. The earlier the window, the higher the price to broadcast that content.] If you take just the UK, for example, Sky has the premium window. Then if you go down until you get to the catchup services and look at the value proposition: Not only does that mean that show is worth one figure, now it’s worth one figure times 10. With every new window our business will prosper.
Tess Alps, chair of UK commercial TV marketing body Thinkbox
It’s testament to the strength of TV that the biggest tech companies want to be in it. Everyone wants to have a go.
One thing about Netflix, you might think I hate them because they don’t carry advertising, but they really do pay something for their content.
And it just shows that TV is growing. We should stop characterising a change in TV as death: It’s growth.
Ian Lewis, director of Sky Movies and acquisitions
People are going to go to where there is great content.
Businesses that are able to marry together that content with being able to deliver it to customers in a really convenient way. One of the things we’re very proud of at Sky, is we have lots of great content and tech that we’ve been able to merge together in a way very few others have. It’s about creating experiences.
Apple TV may make life more interesting for us in the market, it will bring more competition, but also more opportunities.
Eric Berger, executive vice president of digital networks at Sony Pictures Television (OK, so he’s not really a European TV exec, but he was in London talking about the future of television at The Guardian’s Changing Media Summit.)
We’re starting to see a trend of virtual cable companies like Dish, Sling, PlayStation Vue launched this week, Apple seem to have indicated they’re putting one out. Expect more of these to come, these substitutes for cable; linear without the set-top box, or through Apple devices.
It’s more competition, more chances for people to watch TV, and a different approach to bundling, which is interesting. From our perspective it just gives more opportunity for our linear channels and [on-demand] services like Crackle.
And what you’ll find is an over-the-top on-demand streaming service like Crackle can site side-by-side with linear channels.
It’s what people want. It’s all TV. It’s not the death of TV. The content informs the different distribution levels.
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