What it is: Apple is offering original content starting with a show called “Planet of the Apps.”
Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon quickly realized that simply offering TV shows and movies that others have produced reduced themselves to peddling the same products as everyone else. That’s why they moved into original content such as shows like “Orange is the New Black.” That way if you wanted to see those shows, you had to subscribe to one particular service.
Apple has finally realized that they can’t simply offer the same TV shows and movies as everyone else so they need to create original content exclusively for Apple TV and other products as well. Their first offering is a reality show “Shark Tank” clone called “Planet of the Apps” where developers pitch their ideas to celebrities.
While this may be a strange start to original content, at least it’s a start. Reality shows are cheap to produce because there’s no script, sets, or costumes to worry about, which is why major TV networks favor reality shows as well. The drawback of reality shows is that they’re just not that compelling enough to encourage people to subscribe. Reality shows may be cheap to produce, but they lack the draw of a major series like “Game of Thrones.”
Original content is the key to any TV service/network. That’s why ABC, CBS, and NBC created unique situation comedies and dramas that attract an audience. If you wanted to watch “Seinfeld” or “Friends,” you had to watch NBC. The market is no different for online TV services like Apple TV or Netflix.
Creating original content is going to be a hit and miss situation for anyone including Apple. Even the major TV networks had their share of major embarrassments over the years so any original content Apple creates will have its flops as well. That’s just part of the business.
So whether “Planet of the Apps” draws anyone in or not is debatable, but original content is the key. The more interesting content exclusive to one service, the more likely they’ll draw a larger audience. The real key is whether Apple has the stomach to invest in original content over the long-term to insure they’ll eventually have some hits to go along with the many inevitable misses they’ll produce.
Original content is no guarantee of success but without it, there’s a guarantee of failure. Nobody has the key to producing successful original content over time so this is an area where Apple’s brand won’t help them and their past engineering achievements have little basis for predicting future successes in original shows. Apple is a novice in the original content TV business and they either have to accept this fact and deal with the consequences or not even bother trying.
The future will tell how committed Apple may be to original programming. Unlike software and hardware engineering, it’s difficult to design original content successfully on a consistent basis so it will be interesting to watch how Apple TV evolves (or fails to evolve) over the next few years.