As Apple enters the world of original content, we ponder its impact on its rivals - and the ecosystem.
In March, Apple announced its biggest push into the streaming video space - Apple TV+. According to the tech giant, Apple's original video subscription service in the all-new Apple TV App, will give users access to exclusive, original shows, movies and documentaries.
Apple TV+ will be ad-free, available on-demand and viewable both online and offline. Apple plans to launch it in over 100 countries. One can access Apple TV+ through the redesigned Apple TV app on iOS, Mac, Roku, and Fire TV.
According to the reports, Apple is expected to spend $2 billion this year on original content, foraying into the streaming war. Apple TV+ will feature a brand new slate of programming from the world's most celebrated creative artists, the likes of Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston, Octavia Spencer, JJ Abrams, M Night Shyamalan, Jon M Chu and many more.
Additionally, the Apple TV app and Apple TV channels will debut in May 2019. In an official statement, Apple said that the all-new Apple TV app would enable viewers to watch shows, movies, sports, news and more in one app across devices - iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac, smart TVs, and streaming devices. Users can subscribe to and watch new Apple TV channels - paying for only services they want, like HBO, SHOWTIME and Starz - all on-demand, available both online and offline. They would also able to enjoy sports, news and network TV from cable and satellite providers as well as purchase or rent iTunes movies and TV shows all within the new, personalised Apple TV app.
With Apple entering the OTT space, it is expected to impact the media and entertainment ecosystem. Rivals fear Apple not just because of its awesome products and determination but also its gigantic hoard of cash - $245 billion, the largest in the world. It is almost twice as much as the No 2, Microsoft. Should it decide, it can pump money into the venture endlessly.
So, should the established OTT platforms (Netflix, Amazon, Hotstar etc.) worry about Apple's entry? How will this impact the competition? We asked the experts.
Raj Nayak, Media expert and former chief operating officer, Viacom18
Apple entering the OTT space was but a natural progression. Most tech companies now want to get into the media business. They have a huge base across the globe, with an upmarket target audience with spending power. There will be huge expectations and Apple TV+ will have to compete with the established players. I think it will only help grow the entertainment space.
In terms of competition (customer acquisition), Apple may first target existing Apple customers and also end up acquiring a few assets around the world. However, I don't think established OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, Hotstar - need to worry. It was always known for some time that Apple would enter this space. At one time there was speculation that Apple may even buy a big OTT platform globally. They were also keenly looking at an asset in India.
At the end of the day, success or failure will depend on the quality of content they deliver. My belief is that it will help grow the market rather than cannibalise it. This has been true in most product categories and entertainment is no different.
Sameer Nair, chief executive officer, Applause Entertainment
The media and entertainment space is at the cusp of a new tomorrow. With several well-funded and determined streaming platforms in play, the streaming battle has just started as all these platforms are betting big on original, exclusive and quality content. The lines will blur between smartphones and smart TVs. A couple of years back, Apple presaged its television ambitions with a line - 'imagine a giant iPhone on your living room wall'; today that seems to be coming true.
The entry of Apple TV+ is an ideal catalyst in the digital revolution that's taking over the world. Unlike traditional television, the OTT space is non-linear and not limited by slots.
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Hence, I wouldn't say that OTT platforms should worry at all. If anything, they should be pleased, because Apple TV+ is planning to build the TV of the future and collaborating with all other streaming platforms to showcase their content. From my understanding, AppleTV+ is looking to work with and not against the streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon, Hotstar etc. They will feature content from Amazon Prime and Eros Now right at the outset, which technically increases the market for all the OTT players and TV channels out there. With Apple's massive device and paying customer base across the world, this is an opportunity, not a threat, for international and Indian content to reach the premium global customer.
Jehil Thakkar, Partner, Deloitte India
The OTT ecosystem in India is still in its early days with several players (over 35) now operating in this market and constantly evolving. Given that scenario, there is still ample room for new players to enter as the overall market is growing. To stay in the game, any market participant will have to have a long-term commitment as well as deep pockets to sustain that momentum.
Currently, India is a mobile-first market; 83 per cent of India's internet users use mobile phones as their initial access point for internet and hence, video. Smart TVs still have low penetration and depend on high-speed broadband at home - a market that is yet to mature. For the short-term, India will be a mobile market, but over the long-term - both will co-exist. Strong offerings at this point in time will only help grow the market through consumer behaviour change and greater adoption
Frank D'Souza, partner - India entertainment & media sector leader, PwC
In a highly competitive market, Apple's entry will definitely impact existing players. Apple may have an inherent advantage due to gadget loyalists (iPhone owners) who may turn into Apple TV+ loyalists. Hence, it is not a question of whether they would worry about such an entry. Every serious player's strategy and market plans do factor in new competition.
However, the entry of a new player is unlikely to cannibalise existing OTT players' subscribers. It will potentially, in the short-run, give a fillip to the SVOD market. With the increase in disposable income of Indian consumers, their ability to spend more on various media channels will definitely increase.
On a long-term basis, the Indian market is large enough to support 2-3 large players and a few niche ones too. Who will eventually prevail will depend on the nature of the content, price points for subscription and ability to intelligently bake-in advertising within the content.