Apple has set up camp around the edges of the television industry for years, but hasn’t been allowed directly into the select group that makes up broadcast TV networks, cable TV networks, and the cable TV industry. That’s about to change.
Yes, Apple sells TV shows and movies on iTunes and has done so for many years. Apple and content partners make money, and that’s the nature of the entire news, information, and entertainment industry. Everyone shares a slice of the pie, but Apple gets just a bite or two because it’s not a major player with a seat at the table.
Apple TV has been around for years, too, but it’s little more than a website on a TV screen, a place to view channels you’re already paying for to the cable company, or a single location for an odd assortment of not-ready-for-primetime channels that range from YouTube to Netflix, from Podcasts to Trailers, or your own Photos and iTunes music library.
Here’s the problem.
For most households the cable company holds slot #1 which is always on, always connected, always available. Love it or hate, but cable TV owns slot #1 for most of our news, information, and especially entertainment. Everything else is an add-on device, whether it’s Apple TV, Roku, Google’s Chromecast, or whatever. Remote controls make it somewhat easier to switch from one video source to another, but it’s the cable TV channels which have most of what people want to watch, and the cable company is not about to let Apple take up slot #1. Why not? iTunes. Apple dominates the music distribution industry, and the television industry is wise not to give Apple the same room to maneuver.
It won’t matter and here’s why.
Change. It’s relentless and eventually overtakes traditional industries whether players are ready or not. Change is taking place, within the cable TV industry itself, but even more so with viewers and their viewing habits. Apple dominates entertainment viewing on mobile devices. People view apps on their mobile devices more than they watch television, especially younger demographics.
The new Apple TV is more than the proverbial foot in the door; it’s a shot across the bow to the entire industry that there’s a better way for their customers to view content– news, information, entertainment– whatever the source, and Apple is leading the way by integrating everything, and I mean everything, into a single app laden device that pushes (and pulls) content to the big screen from whatever the source. Apple TV remains an add on device, but the allure is more substantial and will marginalize cable TV networks, broadcast networks, and the cable companies by further fragmenting their customers to view others sources of content.
The only piece Apple is missing is the breadth and variety of content that cable companies already have. If Apple became an internet cable company and had access to the same content as the local cable company, then the shift away from the traditional will become more pronounced almost overnight.
Why? Customers love Apple’s products. Customers hate their cable company. Once Apple has access to and begins streaming TV channel subscriptions, by app or packages, the exodus from traditional cable TV watching will accelerate in Apple’s direction.