Sky And Netflix, The Apple TV+ Killers

On the face of it, everything looked great about last night's Apple event. The crowd were excited as usual and cheered the execs as they came on to say what was being updated in News, to make it News +, and to launch the games service, Arcade.

The biggest cheers were, of course, for the Hollywood stars announcing the worst-kept secret in the media -- Apple is taking on Netflix.

Steven Spielberg waxed lyrical about storytelling, and Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon were joined onstage by the guy who plays Ricky Gervais' character in the US version of "The Office." Then some other people turned up and were cheered, but nobody in the UK had a clue who they were.

A woman called Sarah sang a song. Apparently she was famous, as was the guy with her. Then Oprah Winfrey closed the show, with a huge cheer, prompting Brits to ask, does she still make tv shows?

You see, the launch was a very American affair. Stars were not introduced, it was assumed that people would know who they were and would be enthused by their latest project that could be seen in autumn on the as yet unpriced Apple TV+ platform. 

On the one hand, it feels like Apple has finally taken the hint and realised it doesn't matter how many times you talk about a tv app, which presumably relegates those Apple TV boxes to the museum. The tv experience is all about content.

You don't pay to watch an app -- you pay to watch a show. 

The TV+ app boasted lots of content partners, in addition to the "storytellers" series of shows from superstars that Apple is due to release from this autumn. Essentially it was the announcement of a tag team to take on Netflix.

In one corner stands Apple teamed up with Hulu, HBO, Amazon and a couple of cable companies, plus multiple channels that will not be familiar to Brits, other than the BBC's very own BritBox. All will be viewable through the same app, which will be available on all iOS devices and smart televisions, as well as Amazon tablets, phones and Fire sticks.

In the other corner, we have Netflix.

The Telegraph makes the point that the billion dollars Apple is promising to put into tv content is dwarfed by Netflix's annual spend -- which, it claims, will be ten times higher in the next year.

The paper also points out that it doesn't appear to have signed up a bunch of deals for existing "just one more episode" type shows that keep people hooked on a new platform, and which Netflix has in abundance. 

There is a bigger problem for Apple TV+ when it launches in the UK, and it might well be the reason why the event yesterday was such an all-American affair for what Apple kept stressing was a service that will launch in more than one hundred countries. 

You see, Sky TV and Netflix are the two big games in town, and they have pretty much buried the hatchet. With the latest Sky Q platform, users can search for Netflix content as easily as they can Sky content. Between the two, they have pretty much got the UK locked down. All the big sports fixtures, the massive movies, the box sets, the hit shows -- it's very hard to think why one would look beyond the two.

Of course, if Apple scores big with its own "House of Cards" or "Breaking Bad" show, which is worth the subscription on its own, it will be a different matter. But breaking the UK will be an incredibly difficult job with a service that offers the promise of a handful of new shows plus a place to watch your existing subscription in one window. As mentioned, if you have Sky Q and a Netflix subscription, you already have this.

My prediction? Apple TV+ will launch with a lot of excitement and be given as an enticement to upgrade an iOS device or smart tv through a time-limited free offer. It will, however, fail to land a glove on the new partnership between Sky and Netflix which offer easy navigation and access to so much content through a single box, or app, and a single remote control.

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