Let’s face it. Apple missed the boat on television with Apple TV. Apple will not be able to recreate the iTunes music and media experience with television, 4th generation Apple TV notwithstanding.
AT&T announced DirecTV Now, a streaming television service with 100 channels (don’t know what they are yet) for $35 a month. Now, Hulu just announced a deal with ABC, FX, ESPN, Disney, Fox, and others to provide live streaming TV– about 35 channels– to subscribers (also on the list, TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network, and others).
Streaming television is coming, folks, but not from Apple. That ship has sailed.
Even Sling manages to bring 25 TV channels for $20 a month, or 50 channels for $40 a month. In other words, competition for streaming television is heating up and that might bode well for cable TV cord cutters, but one thing is obvious, whatever Apple does likely will be too little, too late.
The iTunes music store hegemony was an aberration, a one off, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that catapulted Apple from also-ran status as a Mac maker to become the leader in handheld devices, app stores, and music store. Apple cannot repeat that same dominance in the television industry.
Here’s what television viewers want.
All television and all movies on demand at any time and on any device
We don’t have that yet but the tipping point might be here thanks to some good old fashioned competition. AT&T wants to own the distribution pipes– wireless or otherwise– and the content that runs down those pipes. The content industry is represented by Hulu but there are other players willing to forego any relationship with the cable TV industry, and make content available to internet users; either as a package deal, or individual app channels.
CBS All Access comes to mind. A single app, a monthly subscription fee, and access to more than 8,500 TV show episodes. From the CBS All Access website:
That’s what viewers really want. Everything, anytime, anywhere. The problem with CBS All Access is that it’s CBS only, but it is available almost everywhere.
If most of what you want to view is on CBS, the monthly subscription might be acceptable. But notice that Sling TV has mostly cable TV network channels, and a handful of also-rans, but not all the major networks. That means to get everything you get with your cable TV subscription you’re required to load up on multiple streaming services, and you’re still in the dark with local television news and sports.
What isn’t available to date is a single provider that actually gives you the choice of what you want to watch, when, and where.
That leaves Apple faithful with Apple TV, and while 8,000 apps sounds like a solid platform, even with all the single sign-in shenanigans Apple pulls viewers still can’t watch all of what we want, when we want it, on any device we want.
You might think that Apple would be the one company that could pull all those disparate pieces together to create a streaming television platform that works like the iTunes Music Store, but co-founder and resurrection artist Steve Jobs is gone and that means the television ship has sailed and Apple isn’t aboard.