The next Apple event is still over a week away, but the rumors are flying fast and furiously. Chief among them, at this stage: the Apple TV is to be revamped, re-positioned, and re-priced at somewhere south of $200 (versus today’s $69 model). It may or may not include a streaming TV service, as multiple observers suggest Apple is having trouble lining up content that matches its preferences…or, you know, maybe everything’s sorted, and it launches next week.
For all the hullaballoo about the machinations of one of the world’s most valuable companies, there’s a kernel of real importance here: Apple is renowned for its attention to detail and quality, and that is just what the industry needs. Viewing on connected TVs grew 380% in just the first quarter of this year and is on a tear. Soon, Internet-delivered TV may very well be primarily consumed on….well, a TV. Just as HBO partnered with Apple for the launch of HBO Now, soon we can imagine plenty of new, or upgrading, entrants looking to Apple to get their wares in front of consumers.
Thankfully, Apple was not the only company making waves last week. Amazon introduced HDR to its Prime service, rather a clever way of upping the viewing experience without saddling themselves with the higher bandwidth demands of true 4K. That early returns weren’t necessarily all that positive is part of the reality of a complicated delivery environment, and we expect to see rapid improvement in the end result very soon.
Meanwhile, Cablevision continues to double down on its experience syndication strategy, announcing an agreement to resell CBS All Access and the Showtime OTT service to its Internet customers. Since revealing that Internet services are 7 times as profitable as Pay TV, CEO Jim Dolan has put wood behind the arrow of shifting to a focus on selling the Internet and providing a sell-through for partners’ TV services. Don’t be surprised to see plenty more deals before this story is done.
In news of the ‘duh’ variety, a survey this week showed that cord cutters are looking for lower costs, not different content. It’s not clear who actually thought the opposite was true. However, there’s an important point here, because the parsimonious purveyor of OTT services is likely to be on a pathway to disappointment: the industry is not about to give up revenues along the way, and there are plenty of pieces out there already about the potentially false economies of cord cutting – for fun, go use the online tool from Slate to see how it would work in your household.
Finally let’s spare a thought for FX chief, John Landgraf, who literally says there is too much scripted content out there. While we can get onboard with the idea that sometimes there’s pressure to binge watch that next series, and that apparently binge watching can literally kill you, is there really so much that we need to slow it all down? In the end it’ll be about quality – not just of the experience, but of the content itself. So the more Game of Thrones and Better Call Saul shows we get the better, while the same cannot necessarily be said of repeats of the utterly bizarre Lyon’s Den (seriously, read the last paragraph and see what happens when a show gets cancelled).