It is, at the very least, ironic that only a few weeks after we concluded the Steven Spielberg vs. Netflix conflict, that just a few days later, the director would spearhead something that will represents his greatest competition. That the face in the very first close-up of Spielberg initiates the new era of Apple TV plus is, without a doubt, a nuanced declaration of his intentions. “Want me to help you find your opening? ” he asks in his first speech, both revealing and overwhelming. That the king of roller coasters – as far as plot development is concerned – would actually start this phase could not be more meaningful. The first peak of a roller coaster designed by the leading company in market value. “… And then, like the Big Bang, it explodes.”
Apple wanted to announce that a new player has entered the world of streaming and video on demand. But not just any old player, and not just at any period in time. Just when Disney was preparing its own platform – after breaking off all of its relations with Netflix – and just when Warner was starting to rearm itself, the ‘apple’ arrives with Spielberg. Amidst the consolidated platforms of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and those in the works from Warner and Disney, Apple breaks in. When everyone demanded from Apple an innovation capable of driving them back to technological, creative and even social leadership, Tim Cook is placed his bets on the same thing as the leading companies of the audiovisual market. The same? Maybe not. From the outset, they have an advantage in terms of devices, estimated at more than 1 billion worldwide. With 15% of subscribers also having Apple TV Plus, Netflix would be knocked down. In addition, the platform will be available in this year’s final quarter for Smart TVs from Samsung, Sony and LG, among other brands.
The Statistics for On-Demand Video
To explain the context through figures, it’s worth noting that Netflix expected to end March with 150 million subscribers globally, while Amazon Prime exceeded 100 million in 2018 and Hulu, popular mainly in the US, has a level of about 25 million users. In addition, after the recent acquisition of Fox by Disney, the company of Mickey, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and other totems now owns 60% of Hulu (adds to its 30% to the percentage of Fox). After these three platforms, two players will barge through with force. On one hand, we have the aforementioned case of Disney and, on the other, Warner. The recently approved merger between AT&T and Time Warner (owner of Warnes Bros, HBO, CNN and TNT, among others) and the incorporation of Bob Greenblatt demonstrate the commitment to the development of a leading platform. Thus, an exciting dispute is looming.
But, as we can see from the presentation of Apple TV Plus, Netflix should not only fear the figures, but also the potential content. Tim Cook wanted to differentiate himself from the start, from the strategic first spot. What if the innovation is not in the device? What if the innovation is in its content? It’s as absurd as it is shortsighted to think that in audiovisual communication, specifically in cinematographic art, that everything has already invented. An art with little more than a century of history has an immeasurable journey. Hamlet and Don Quixote were written 24 centuries after The Iliad, how many more innovations in narrative or content are left to be discovered in the seventh art?
It’s undeniable that Apple, as an innovative company, has fallen in terms of its periods of greatest success. The Boston Consulting Group report The most innovative companies of 2019 shows this by placing the company in third place after leading the ranking in all previous editions.
Innovation gives way to vision, gives way to a foreground, gives way to light, gives way to a new era of video on demand with more players commited to reign decisively in all possible fields. But, the most significant of all is that it gives way to an audiovisual era yet to be exploited … “and then, like the Big Bang, it explodes.”