Is Apple Really Planning to Give Away its New Streaming Shows?

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Apple working on its own original shows and video content is one of the worst kept secrets in both tech and Hollywood right now. Their intentions were revealed with the mediocre Planet of the Apps and the somewhat better longer-form version of Carpool Karaoke, which is still alive and kicking. However, while these two trial balloons have been out there for all to see, all of Hollywood has been hearing the names of well-known actors, producers, and show-runners attached to projects that Apple has secured for future release and taking notice of just how serious they are about this new venture.

In the tech world, a lot of the conjecture about Apple’s streaming video ambitions has been focused on delivery. How are they going to serve this content up? For a while now, the consensus has been that Apple wouldn’t stick with using Apple Music as a delivery method for video. Today, the TV app, which extends to all of Apple’s devices, including the Apple TV, seems to be a more likely candidate.

It is also been a forgone conclusion that Apple would be charging for their new shows. They charge for Apple Music. They charge for iCloud storage. They will likely charge for whatever they do with recent magazine subscription service acquisition, Texture. I mean, there is no way that the most profitable company on the planet is going to give away $1 billion of original video content, right? Well, a report from CNBC citing anonymous sources within Apple says they will be doing exactly that- Apple’s video content will be free to Apple device owners, and will be served up through the TV app.

There is no way that either Netflix or Hulu would ever do this, because streaming content is their core business. However, Amazon bundling video content along with Amazon Prime is not surprising to me in the least. They are using Prime Video as one of many hooks to get people to do a single thing- shop more with them. While Apple could have the same motives as Amazon to use video content as another hook to get and retain customers, it’s just difficult to imagine given what we know about the company. They don’t miss a trick when it comes to making money, so Apple passing on a potential subscription revenue stream for its fast-growing Services division just doesn’t sound like something they would do today.

That said, this is an interesting concept that could be very effective. As CNBC points out, it also lines up with rumors that Apple is asking creators to avoid sex, violence, drug use, gratuitous cursing, etc in its shows. This is a big point of divergence with other video streaming services, but it would definitely make sense for a free offering. Apple would want to appeal to the widest audience possible if they go the free to device owners route. That expanded audience would likely include children, which makes going the clean road the smart play.

I also can’t ignore the source. Whatever you may think of cable news and financial channels, this is definitely not some no-name blog with nothing to lose. CNBC wouldn’t run with a headline this bold if they didn’t have reason to believe that the story is true. That is certainly no guarantee that they are right. Just ask Bloomberg about that, as having several sources on their Chinese hardware hacking story hasn’t saved them from a lot of headaches since running with it. Still, I think we can safely assume that CNBC is confident that they are right.

As for my opinion, it is hard to shake what I know about Apple. They just don’t give a lot away, no matter how loyal a customer you are. As such, I can’t help but be skeptical about this report until we see more news from people and outlets that are a little closer to the source. If Mark Gurman goes on the record talking about Apple giving their video content away to device owners, then I will change my tune. For now, I remain intrigued, but still very skeptical that Apple won’t put a fee on their shows when its all said and done.

Do you think Apple will give their original video content away to their device owners, or will they take the easy and expected route and make that Services money? Let me know what you think in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, our Facebook page, on Twitter, or on our new Instagram account.


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