Battle of the streaming services: Apple gets ready to take on Netflix

With the help of Oprah and Ed Sheeran, Apple will launch a TV-streaming service to rival the big players in the online entertainment industry

01 July 2018 - 00:00 By Ed Power
Netflix has revolutionised the way we watch TV.
Netflix has revolutionised the way we watch TV.
Image: 123RF/pixinoo

As a high-school student in Palo Alto, California, Steve Jobs loved to spread chaos by setting snakes loose in class and detonating smoke-bombs under his teacher's chair.

The Apple figurehead died in 2011, but some of his anti-authoritarian spirit continues to infuse a company shaped in his maverick image.

Indeed, so far as TV-streaming services Netflix and Amazon Prime are concerned, Apple is about to unleash the equivalent of a snake in the classroom or a bomb under the chair.

The tech giant is ramping up its original content - TV programmes as they were known in antediluvian days - and it's hard not to conclude that the corporation has nothing short of world domination on its mind.

Apple's expected move into television and movies is part of a wider strategy announced by Job's successor Tim Cook to double revenue from its "services" business by 2020.

With sales of the iPhone X failing to match expectations and fears the cellphone market is approaching saturation level, content is where the growth potential lies. To that end, Apple plans to spend $1-billion (about R13.6-billion) on original programming in 2018, rising to $4.2-billion within four years.

Details are cloaked in secrecy. Across Hollywood, though, there are reports of top talent being poached as Apple lays the groundwork for over 20 original shows.

Across Hollywood, though, there are reports of top talent being poached as Apple lays the groundwork for over 20 original shows

The slate is said to include a Steven Spielberg science fiction anthology, Amazing Stories, and a Reese Witherspoon drama set in the backstabbing world of morning television, with Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston starring (the working title is Top of the Morning).

When and how these shows will be unveiled remains a matter of conjecture, though insiders say a March 2019 launch isn't implausible.

In what is hard to interpret as anything other than a shot across the bows of Netflix and Amazon, Apple has also struck a multi-year deal with Oprah Winfrey to create original programmes.

It is also planning a documentary about singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran and has secured the rights to an adaptation of Isaac Asimov sprawling sci-fi saga Foundation.

That's just the beginning of what sounds like a full-scale declaration of war. - The Daily Telegraph


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