What it is: Apple has signed three shows to develop exclusive content, but will it be enough?
Apple TV is nothing more than a box that connects the Internet to a TV screen. Because of that, it’s nothing different than any rival products. That’s why Apple is delving into original content programming such as a morning drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, along with a revival of the Amazing Stories story anthology series. The goal is to offer exclusive content to draw subscribers in like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon have all done.
The problem is that TV is fading in significance. In the old days, people only had three channels to choose from (ABC, NBC, and CBS). Then cable networks arrived and soon people could watch dozens to hundreds of channels filled with content. However, fewer people are watching TV shows when they’re scheduled. Instead, people are watching TV shows when they have time to watch it. They can also binge-watch shows to watch several shows in rapid succession, which is something not possible with traditional TV.
So the whole idea of a TV schedule is obsolete. We don’t need shows to appear at a particular time any more because people can choose what they want to watch and when they want to watch it. More importantly, according to “Streampunks” author Robert Kyncl, YouTube has pointed the way towards the future of video. It’s about creators and content. Specifically, older people watch TV and longer people are watching video content on smartphones and tablets.
That means the future of Apple TV isn’t to mimic HBO or NBC, but to follow the path outlined by YouTube. Instead of offering shows at a fixed schedule, Apple TV needs to offer shows with episodes people can choose to watch. Since many people are watching video on smartphones and tablets, there’s also a demand for short videos. Instead of sitcoms lasting 30 minutes or dramas lasting an hour, what about shows that offer smaller, bite-size chunks in 10 minute segments? That would make them perfect to view on smartphones and tablets whenever people have time.
The future of video watching is on mobile. Sitting at a TV is fine, but the most dynamic growth in video is on mobile that YouTube has captured. If Apple TV wants to achieve massive success, they should be mimicking YouTube instead of HBO because the future is short videos, not traditional TV shows that fit in half hour or hour-long segments that existed only because of the time schedule of traditional TV networks.
When you had a fixed schedule of what time shows aired such as 8:00 or 9:30, you had to have shows fit within 30 minute or hour long time blocks. Strip away this fixed schedule and there’s no reason you can’t have one show that offers 20 minute segments, another offering 10-minute segments, and still another offering 1.3 hour segments. Time is no longer limited to 30 minute blocks, and that’s what Apple needs to understand and embrace.
Right now, it seems like Apple TV is simply following the path of traditional programming, which means their original content will likely b e in 30 minute or hour long segments. If so, that means Apple is missing the real revolution, which is no fixed time length for shows. When Apple TV offers shows with varying lengths to fit the demands of audiences, that’s when Apple TV may finally become a leader instead of a timid and late follower.