Peter Kafka: What Apple’s got up its sleeve for Monday

“One thing Apple won’t do is unveil a serious competitor to Netflix, Hulu, Disney…”

From Apple’s plan for its new TV service, posted Thursday on Recode:

On Monday it will unveil its new video strategy, along with some of the new big-budget TV shows it is funding itself.

One thing Apple won’t do is unveil a serious competitor to Netflix, Hulu, Disney, or any other entertainment giant trying to sell streaming video subscriptions to consumers.

Instead, Apple’s main focus — at least for now — will be helping other people sell streaming video subscriptions and taking a cut of the transaction. Apple may also sell its own shows, at least as part of a bundle of other services. But for now, Apple’s original shows and movies should be considered very expensive giveaways, not the core product.

That is much less exciting than “Apple Takes on Netflix in the Streaming Wars,” but it is an accurate description. Even worse for people interested in exciting narratives: Apple has already been helping people sell video subscriptions and taking a cut of the transaction for years.

My take: Kafka’s usually right about this stuff. If there’s any wow Monday will come from the stars and their trailers.


  1. Robert Davison said:
    “Instead, Apple’s main focus — at least for now — will be …” This is where I think most commentary will miss the mark. The question, always, with Apple is how does this play in the long term.
    There has been discussion about the possibility of packaging subscription services – mainly focused on software services but some including the hardware (especially the iPhone). Now take a broader view of the hardware and software – Apple has the Apple TV; it has entered the wearables market and there is anticipation of AR / VR glasses; it has the powerful ARKit; its has experience with high volume / quality cloud services and it has high levels of security for personal / financial transactions. What happens if all of these are rolled together and Apple is able to provide AR content to an Apple TV that interacts with the glasses to provide the ability for multiple people to watch AR enhanced content. Disney, Netflix, HBO etc can all develop and deliver such productions by being on the Apple Network – with payments collected by ApplePay.
    Today – no … but tomorrow ???

    March 21, 2019
    • Jonathan Mackenzie said:
      Robert, I think you’re completely right about the direction of streaming entertainment. AR has the potential to be as big a leap forward in media as the television was compared to radio.

      If it succeeds, Augmented Reality will have a huge impact on news and entertainment. Imagine a documentary (or mystery) with AR objects you can examine alongside the narrative. A news story could present 3d maps or models to facilitate understanding and give context. For any of this to happen, there will need to be a seamless marriage of hardware, software, and content. Apple seems well positioned in this regard.

      March 21, 2019
  2. Aaron Belich said:
    Disney+ will be an Apple exclusive, oh, and it’ll be announced that Apple and Disney are going to merge.

    Tim Cook will then drop the mic, the clicker, and chortle for the next 87 minutes of Disney+Apple content teasers and trailers.

    March 21, 2019
  3. George Row said:
    Whatever they are announcing it is clear that “Plan A”, whatever it may be, is on track and ready to fill the whole session. All the things announced this week were clearly being held to fill the time in case something didn’t land in time and “Plan B” was needed.

    So it may be a dull parade of trailers and Hollywood starlets but at least we can expect that they have lined up all the ones they wanted.

    March 22, 2019

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