In true Apple style, controversy has surrounded the company in the week approaching its star-studded event on Monday where the curtains are expected to be drawn on its $1 billion+ video streaming service. Not only have a number of content firms reportedly been complaining about the pushy manner in which Apple is handling programming negotiations, but even Netflix CEO Reed Hastings rubbed salt in the wounds by stamping out rumors regarding any sort of Netflix-Apple video integration deal.
Clearly showing its complete lack of experience as a TV wheeler dealer (although you’d have thought it would have hired people with negotiating skills by now),
, Apple has reportedly peeved a number of prominent studios by being too picky about product placement, while the iPhone maker’s obsession with protecting trade secrets has manifested as a communication breakdown. A report from the New York Times, citing a dozen or so unnamed people close to the discussions, has described concerns of a “culture clash” between Apple’s furtive technology roots and the outspoken world of showbusiness.
Such is the deep-seated nature of the elements causing the blatant culture clash, that Apple’s “It’s show time” event at the Steve Jobs theater next week will do little to calm qualms within studio circles, regardless of the inevitable surge of flattering headlines next week. While the reports are new, Apple’s entertainment naivety has been plain to see for many years.
Failure to provide studios even with basic details like programming launch dates have evoked fears that ultimately Apple’s game plan is non-existent. And while Apple has struck deals with HBO, Showtime and Starz, according to Bloomberg, original content remains the priority strategy, for which it has apparently completed the production of around five original series.
Then to assume Netflix would simply move aside and embrace its new overlord with open arms is beyond a joke. Hastings echoed as much, stating at a press event that Netflix would not integrate with Apple’s streaming service for the obvious reason that it wants people to watch Netflix content on the Netflix platform. The fact Hastings even had to utter these words is an insult to his integrity.
He did at least express some excitement about soon facing some fresh competition, saying Apple is “going to do some great shows” and will “come up with some great ideas” which Netflix would be envious of and want to “borrow.” We feel this “borrow” comment should not be taken as gospel, as this was more than likely meant as an olive branch gesture as opposed to scope for a genuine content licensing agreement in the future. Although Apple producing content compelling enough that Netflix would want to license it would be a major achievement – one which is arguably a more realistically achievable goal than usurping Netflix as the world’s top SVoD service.
Apple’s current content portfolio preview reads as following: An as-yet untitled series with Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston; Amazing Stories from Steven Spielberg; mystery drama Are You Sleeping?; sci-fi series For All Mankind; fantasy title See; a new thriller movie from M. Night Shyamalan; documentary Little America; a comedy series from the stars of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; cartoon musical Central Park; a Cribs-esque documentary called Home; and finally comedy show Dickinson from Emily Dickinson. In addition, legendary director J.J. Abrams has been contracted to produce a duo of series.
A news subscription service is also rumored to be taking to the stage next week, although major publishers including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post are tentative due to Apple’s 50% revenue fee demand. Additional uninspiring products rumored for the event include AirPods equipped with a new H1 chip for improved battery life and faster connection, as well as a digital credit card in partnership with Goldman Sachs.
All eyes will be on Apple next week, when the company has a great opportunity to restore its fledgling video reputation following the allegations of its picky practices and miscommunication misdemeanors. Few outside the Apple fan club are optimistic.