Apple shook up the home rental market on September 1, 2010 with the announcement of the new Apple TV. Or did they? The announcement of rentals for individual television episodes seemed like it would be a great solution for the consumer. Why then are so few television studios backing the idea? Right now only Fox and ABC are on board. Where are all the other studios?
The short answer is they aren't in Steve Jobs's game. Some prominent studio executives are staying away from Apple and this deal - and it doesn't look like they will be warming up to it anytime soon. It is hard to believe that they will "see the light" as Apple's CEO Steve Jobs said during the recent press conference. Namely because Apple is trying to do to the television industry what it did the music industry, and the networks don't seem to like that idea at all. Selling TV shows by the episode is a little too much for some television executives to digest. They see what Apple did to music and view them as a threat to their best profit centers for television shows, including home video and syndication.
The iTunes store and the iPod have been a revolution in the way the consumer experiences music. Thanks to Apple - gone are the days of sitting down to listen to an album start to finish, or even in its entirety at all for that matter. Everything is now on the go. Drop the songs you want into a playlist and head out, sync it around your home or beyond. Or if that is too much work or too much time to waste, there is even the option to let iTunes make lists for you with the Genius function. Everything has become about convenience to the consumer. Little is said about the fact that audio quality or artistic integrity are being affected by Apple's massive market power.
McDonald's is tasty (in the short term) and cheap but should you eat it every day? Most say no - even if it's convenient.
For many consumers, especially younger ones, there is no real need to buy an album any more. Don't like the third track? Don't buy it. Buy all the songs you want à la carte and play them in any order you want. Never mind what the intention of the artist was. And with all this convenience, why would you ever buy a CD? With a few clicks you can be listening to what you want to in seconds. Instant gratification in low definition is what music retail has become in an Apple driven marketplace.
Nobody is more worried about the role of iTunes more than television studios. Today's television studios make a great deal of revenue from the sale of their properties on DVD, Blu-ray and even via download. This new system Apple is putting into practice allows consumers to pick an episode and watch it, whenever they want, for a pretty low price of $0.99 per rental. This is ground breaking pricing and distribution but television and the Internet compete in ways that the Compact Disc and the Internet never really did. Yes, there was Napster but the legal and convenient way Apple sold music brought people back into the fold. With television - you have a more direct competition for distribution method and many don't want Steve Jobs to own that.
There are other venues that allow television content providers to sell their products in ways that pay differently than Apple. However, Jobs has a way taking control or whatever he sets his sights on and right now he has his eyes set on television content. With the success of the iPad, iTunes, and the lowering of the price of Apple TV - he might again win. If he were to make an Apple app for today's TVs to compete with the likes of Cinema Now and many other download services - he'd have an even more compelling argument as to why he owns so many distribution channels. The studios may then very well have to fold and give him the content.
The question is do we want to live in a world where Apple controls all our content?