Commentary

Blood On The Desktop As Apple And Disney Disrupt The Disruptors

Part of the subtlety behind the latest iOS update to Mac computers, called Mojave, was the Apple TV and News+ apps now appearing in the bottom bar of this user's screen.

Among the list of minor updates explained in Apple's download information, these are the steps that speak volumes about where Apple is moving as it prepares to launch TV Plus.

For me, I only noticed the News+ service had begun through such a small adjustment to the app offering a News+ section. Being a news junkie, I immediately signed up for just under GBP10 a month. It seems an incredible value considering that I am already paying more to subscribe to The Times each month. 

The question I have for streaming and TV Plus is the same question raised as I double-clicked to sign up for Apple News+. It's the same question many other people must also be asking. Is this all adding new customers or is it going to cannibalise user bases? If you can spend GBP10 on one service, would you not just go for that and ditch separate individual subscriptions? Why would anyone effectively pay twice for the same content?

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I have been speaking to news aggregators recently who claim that they add to readerships by exposing customers to new magazines and newspapers they might not otherwise come across.

That almost certainly is true, but I think The Times will be taking a very close look at its subscription levels over the next few months to see whether its readership and subscription base grows or whether subscribers shift to the News+ app for a curated, cheaper experience.

This brings us back nicely onto television with the launch of TV Plus and Disney's streaming session arriving at the beginning and the end of November, respectively. 

There is a very interesting piece in The Telegraph today pointing out that investors certainly expect to see a turbulent few months ahead. The proportion of Netflix shares that are on loan, and hence being "shorted," has nearly doubled already this year. 

That is a clear sign that investors expect Apple TV Plus and Disney to have a major impact on the streaming market -- particularly since Disney has ensured that as much of its content as possible is now only be available on its service.

"Friends" is also apparently leaving the Netflix platform to go back to its owner's streaming service, HBO Max. It may not sound like a big deal, but it is believed to be one of the most-watched shows on Netflix.

So the chances are that we are about to see some blood on the carpet -- or at least a new era of intense competition -- like never before. Until now we have had disruptors disrupting traditional media. Netflix took on the television channels and the internet moved news online, decimating print revenues.

What we're not shaping up to see is the digital disruption of digital. The Netflix model is to be rivalled and challenged as the huge names in entertainment fight back against the start-ups. In news we have Apple's aggregation service disrupting by almost getting rid of the brands that bring stories to us as a destination in favour of curated sections where people can pick stories that grab us from multiple providers, all in the same place.

So, the appearance of those apps on my computer screen a week ago was not so much a handy couple of icons to sit at the bottom of the screen, but rather an indication that we are about to see disruptors disrupting digital. It will be a fascinating time.

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