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Apple TV will provide a “much more immersive experience and opens up other avenues like e-commerce”
Apple TV plugs into an existing TV set using HDMI. It plays iTunes music, movies and TV shows and also offers a range of games, apps and additional content through an iTunes-like store. The biggest US TV broadcast networks (CBS, NBC, Fox and others) are offering their content through apps on the device, but UK broadcasters are reluctant to get involved in defining the future of television. Of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, only the BBC has announced plans to support the device. Already available on other platforms, iPlayer is one of the biggest on-demand video services in the world.
“I am delighted that iPlayer will be coming to the new Apple TV in the coming months, helping to bring the BBC’s distinctive and loved content to an even wider audience”, promised BBC Director-General, Tony Hall. Critics observe Sky’s Now TV service is already available for Apple users, as is the highly popular Netflix service.
Analysts noted the importance of BBC support. “iPlayer coming to the Apple TV is a landmark deal”, Ian Maude from the research firm Enders Analysis told BBC News. In part that’s because Apple TV debuts at a time when traditional
viewing patterns are changing rapidly. Asymco analyst, Horace Dediu notes that traditional TV use fell by circa 30 percent among people aged 12-34 years in the last five years. That’s bad news for traditional broadcast industry dependence on advertising, as those lost viewers will become the highest income group over the next decade. This will drive content producers to Apple TV.
Battle of the set-top boxes
Apple TV isn’t confined to television content. The company’s move to run versions of iOS apps on the system means the company can explore fresh frontiers in living room apps, from music to television, games to movies on demand, education, ecommerce and more. BTIG analyst Brandon Ross believes Apple TV will provide “[a] much more immersive experience and opens up other avenues like e-commerce… Imagine you have, say, the Disney channel app and around it you put a store and people could browse the store that’s related to the content that they’re seeing”.
It’s a competitive space and Amazon, which runs its own streaming service and sells its own streaming device, responded to Apple TV by ending sales of the device on its site, claiming a desire to “avoid customer confusion”.
Amazon’s competitive slap and slow adoption by broadcasters are unlikely to dent interest in Apple TV. It is likely UK broadcasters want to see how things work out for US networks offering content through Apple”s box. They will want to find out if it can deliver the kind of steady revenue they need to support their business – if Apple cannot bring the US networks this kind of success then international users may face a frustrating delay. It is also possible Apple has a bigger plan for subscription-based access to TV network offerings, as widely speculated upon over the last couple of years. The Wall Street Journal reported Apple was in talks to “offer a slimmed-down bundle of TV networks this fall”, earlier this year – could Apple have simply changed schedule?
Apple already has a schedule to improve its new set-top box, including new Siri capabilities. “In a few months, Apple TV owners will be able to tell the device to find a song or album the same way they’d tell it to find a movie”, it told BuzzFeed News. Apple hasn’t yet shared sales figures for the new Apple TV.
The fourth-generation Apple TV offers media streaming like earlier models, but its promise lies in the ability to build and sell apps and games for it.