Hollywood 2019: Apple TV App–Ambitious Plan

As streaming becomes the primary mode through which many households access film and TV programming, Apple’s ambitious goal is to aggregate content from many various platforms.

“Today, there is so much to watch in more ways than ever before, and with so many choices, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start,” CEO Tim Cook said.

The plan will begin in May with the relaunch of the Apple TV app, now a central hub where consumers can watch live and on-demand programming through their existing Hulu and ESPN+ subscriptions or sign up for HBO and Starz.

Then, in the fall, Apple will supercharge the platform by introducing the subscription offering TV+ for originals like “The Morning Show,” starring Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell and Reese Witherspoon and “See” with Jason Momoa.

“Apple is looking to become the cable box of streaming,” says Wedbush analyst who predicts that in the age of cord-cutting, “the distribution platforms are going to be as valuable as the content itself.”

Apple disappointed media by not revealing pricing details for its TV offering. Amazon has been bundling programming from third-party services through its Channels program since 2015. Roku began selling subscriptions to Showtime, Starz and Epix alongside its open app platform in January.

Days before Apple’s event, Comcast unveiled a streaming-only TV box, Xfinity Flex, for watching Netflix, HBO and more than 10,000 free titles. “We believe that, in a sea of apps, there is app fatigue,” Xfinity Services executive vp Matt Strauss said of the cable giant’s foray into a streaming-first offering. “It’s really about aggregating the experience of all the different content within these apps.”

The market is only growing as consumers abandon costly pay TV packages. In 3 years, the number of U.S. cable subscribers is expected to fall below 170 million, while over-the-top viewership will reach 205 million people by the end of 2019.

With an install base of 1.4 billion users (900 million of them iPhone owners), Apple needs only a fraction of its customers to sign up for a TV offering to become a major player.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that he wants people to “watch our content on our service.” But Apple will be able to sell subscriptions to some 20 networks and take a cut of the revenue. A streaming bundle could reach 100 million subscribers in the next five years, and a service combining several of Apple’s entertainment offerings could generate more than $22 billion in revenue by 2025.