Electric Shadow

Disney and the Future of TV

I've been picking at a piece musing about what Apple's play really is in streaming, since their "announcement" of Apple TV+ was more an announcement of a vague intention. I'm glad I didn't bother posting anything before the Disney+ event, because that gives a pair of theories I have (which might be two stages of one theory) more solid ground to stand on.

This is the only appropriate context in which to think about Disney+. While obviously Disney+ will compete with Netflix for consumer attention, the goals of the two services are very different: for Netflix, streaming is its entire business, the sole driver of revenue and profit. Disney, meanwhile, obviously plans for Disney+ to be profitable — the company projects that the service will achieve profitability in 2024, and that includes transfer payments to Disney’s studios — but the larger project is Disney itself.
— Ben Thompson at Stratechery, a site you should subscribe to immediately

Ben Thompson makes me more certain that some of my questions are headed in the right direction. Disney is a lifestyle brand with a culture all their own. So is Apple. No one outside of Cupertino knows the answers to my questions, but the two paths are clearer now.

Is Apple going "Netflix from scratch", or are they buying a studio library to compete with Disney(ABCFoxESPN), AT&T(WarnerHBO), and Comcast(NBCUniversal)? What happens if Amazon or Netflix beat them to it?

The first doesn't preclude them from doing the latter, whether this fall or down the road.

Remember "nobody wants to watch video on an iPod"? Today it's "why would Apple want to own a studio?", but part of the answer is that Disney has made the idea of charging more than $7 a month for one of the biggest content libraries on the planet a non-starter.

Something I haven't seen anyone mention yet: who says Apple didn't anticipate Disney leveraging their massive studio catalog and disrupting streaming service pricing?

What if that is the very good reason they didn't announce launch date, price, or much outside of brief looks at attached name-brand talent? What if everyone missed that, from those defending Apple's boring non-announcement to people like me who went "what the hell was the point of that?"