back to article Apple’s premium TV plans – the hobby doomed to stay that way

When YouTube announced its standalone TV subscription service last month, Faultline called for Apple to return fire, and last week there were rumours doing the rounds that Apple is preparing to rope in premium content providers to offer a bundled subscription package of its own. To show you how fast this is moving, last week …

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Analysis?

Have I misread this article? I can't find anything substantial in it at all.

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Re: Analysis?

Basically it is an opinion piece based on observed waffy strategy by Apple.

Apple seriously seems to have an existential crisis. It was/is(?) a tech device company that seems to hate the fact it is a tech device company.

Itunes and Apple TV are good examples of this, as well as the ever decreasing usabiliy of their offerings - hint: Removing features does not automatically = progress. And who gives a crap if it is as thin as a Piece of A4 (US Legal).

It has clout and the resourses to be leader in the computing field, but that is obviously far too crass and won't distinguish it from, say, Lenovo.

But this article is comparing its offerings to the likes of Google. This is comparing Apples to Oranges - and partly Apples fault for presenting an uncertain image to the world.

They have Google-envy.

IMHO anyway. But what do I know. I am not a consultant.

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Re: Analysis?

What "waffy" strategy? The only people talking about Apple offering OTT TV streaming are analysts. Apple never has. Maybe they do, but just because there have been rumors of a half dozen different strategies for Apple over the years wouldn't mean they were waffling - just that as usual analysts guesses were wrong.

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Re: Analysis?

The waffy strategy that is presented with the products they produce. They are a tech device company presenting a lifestyle façade. This is one of the reasons they have money measured in GDPs, not just for tax reasons, because they don't know where to go with this. So they start focusing on the minutiae of cutting a few mm here, a curve here, a current usable port here. They are in serious crisis and TC daren't forge his own path, oh know. The legacy SJ left behind is powerful and it seems to me they are stalling and fairly scared to actually break out really forge something that isn't rooted in advertising or prophetic profits.

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Apple TV poor in the UK

I have the latest Apple TV. I use it for BBC iPlayer and YouTube, but both of those apps are not fully featured. iPlayer doesn't have the function to login with your BBC ID. YouTube doesn't have the function to subscribe to a channel when you've viewed a video - videos don't show any markup ie: buttons to click on.

It doesn't have the TV content that it does in the USA.

I subscribe to Eurosport (owned by Discovery), but that doesn't have an Apple TV app, so I have to watch via the web. (It's bitrate is half that of iPlayer for 720p, so the picture quality suffers.)

If I had a recent smart TV, I doubt I'd use the Apple TV.

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Re: Apple TV poor in the UK

Just get a Now TV box. You can pick them up for around £15 in supermarkets when they have them on offer. You don't need to pay a subscription to use BBC iPlayer and YouTube on it.

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Re: Apple TV poor in the UK

I have FireTV as an app on my TV and the Prime content as a by-product of my Amazon Prime subscription.

And that is it. I don't pay for any TV directly, other than the GEZ (German equivalent of the UK TV licence).

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Re: Apple TV poor in the UK

Just get a Now TV box. You can pick them up for around £15 in supermarkets when they have them on offer...

GBP15 is the base price (for the v2 with wired LAN but no composite out). The higher-priced 'offers' are bundled with now-tv passes.

I would guess a *lot* will be available on freecysle (&c) just now since the last auto firmware update removed the ability to sideload additional apps (like Plex which was a common use case)

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Gimp

Re: Apple TV poor in the UK

I had an AppleTV, and bought a smart TV 4 months ago. They are both substandard, but the smart TV interface is so appallingly bad that I find that I prefer to use the Apple when I can (It's a pity that their content is so poor though). It might be easier for Apple to improve their content than the various smart TV suppliers to produce decent interfaces.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple TV poor in the UK

It will be a sad day indeed if I am forced to purchase a so-called smart TV. I like them dumb. They are nothing more than a monitor with integrated (shitty) speakers. Beyond that, you've seen it; crap interfaces, secret spy apps, horrible player apps, all shoved into a device that is 99% the same from every manufacturer. I've had many different media players; the ill-fated Seagate TV device that had a little bay for a disk drive which they never built bigger than a measly 500GB probably because it overheats, a Patriot/Android box (not bad for US$40), various consoles that could or could not play DVDs and/or media files, the Apple TV 4th gen (had it about a year now), and many Kodi players (rPi2 w/LibreELEC Kodi v16.1). The Apple TV does one thing good, it does the apps better than a smart TV, or a dedicated Blu-ray/DVD player can. Hulu and Netflix are very well done on it, and it's better to view on than a tablet or other iDevice. The TV app is annoying, but with updates is getting less so. Overall, it's a bit pricey at US$150, and that is a deep discount or a refurb unit. The games are not quite there yet. The app/controller does not work right with my Formula 1 2016, and most of the other games are too simple to require a dedicated game stick. The remote is far too small, and is too easy to make errant "touches" on the pad when you pick it up the wrong way, which is every time. :) I fixed this by affixing a heavy duty sticker to the bottom face, so I know which way to grab it. So, is it going to replace Kodi? No, don't even think about it! But for a better Hulu/Netflix app experience it does the job at a upmarket price, and the unit receives software updates, something only the Kodi players can claim. 3-1/2 stars!

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Re: Apple TV poor in the UK

I have the latest Apple TV and I think it's terrible.

It's missing various UK TV channels, no Amazon Prime video, the remote control touch interface is a pain to use, and the Now TV app keeps crashing when trying to view the live Entertainment or Movies.

I got a Roku 3 in the end and it has all the channels I need, the apps never crash, and the remote is well built and easy to use.

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Re: Apple TV poor in the UK

Dont by a Now box, they are locked down so you cant load your own Apps.

By an Android box (or Amazon Fire Stick) load Kodi, and Bobs your uncle......

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Yet another subscription i will be expected to have if i want to watch everything?

This just drives piracy, no one wants 4,5,6 different subscriptions

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Especially when they remove a TV series when you're half way through watching it.

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I don't have any subscriptions (with the exception of Prime Video, which is a by-product of me already being an Amazon Prime member) and I don't resort to piracy. With the free-to-air state and commercial channels here, there is more than enough to watch, without having to resort to piracy or subscriptions.

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TV Subscriptions

So in the UK we have

1. BBC - license fee not optional if you watch any live content.

2. Sky - No longer show all premier league football matches.

3. BTtv- remainder of the live premier league football.

4. Virgin / TalkTalk/ EE / PlusNet all provide some bits of freeview plus BT plus Sky depending upon what you pay for.

5. Netflix

6. Amazon prime

7. Freeview / YouView / FreeSat

8. YouTube

9. BlinkBox

10. LoveFilm

11. iTunes / AppleTV

12. ClubCardTV

I'm sure I've missed some.Plenty of options but today there is no where you can go to get everything in one place, at least legally. And if you subscribe to just a few of these such as Sky, Netflix and Amazon, you are paying for a lot of overlap.

Crying out for someone to strike a deal to deliver all the content through one hub but unlikely to ever happen as it would eat into revenue streams.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: TV Subscriptions

since when is Freeview/FreeSat a subscription?

One upfront cost and that is it.

As most TV's have FreeView built in these days, even that is mitigated.

FreeSat boxes are around £50 or £200 if you want to make a PVR.

Other than that I agree. Far too many 'Only £x.99/month' media related subscriptions.

The tightwad that I am only pay for my UK TV License.

One has to watch the pennies. My company pension just went up by a whole 72p/month.

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MJI
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Re: TV Subscriptions

Easy to rationalise

1. BBC - Top Gear

6. Amazon Prime - The Grand Tour

All motoring shows worth watching counted for.

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Re: TV Subscriptions

Anything with ANY boradcast TV (Sky, BT, Virgin) needs a TV licence in UK. Subscription or FTA based is irrelevant.

I expect UK will follow Ireland (Previously TV licence was OWNING a receiver). It's just a tax. They will extend to watching ANY kind of video, like Ireland (for any screen above a certain size).

If it's subscription only, I don't watch it. Subscriptions cost you every month even if you don't watch, and Sky is certainly more expensive than TV licence (which you need also, in either country). Over 90% of what people with a cable or satellite subscription watch, is actually Free to Air!

Expect Netflex to double or triple in price in UK & Ireland when they reach saturation (Pay TV, is 82% in Ireland, not as high in UK).

Netflix is crazy, as though it''s not broadcast, but VOD, there is no long tail and even comparatively recent stuff is retired. It's because VOD scales badly compared to broadcast, they have to install servers all over the place on ISPs they partner with to reduce the backhaul traffic, or else it wouldn't work.

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Anonymous Coward

"Especially when they remove a TV series when you're half way through watching it."

I've had that happen with a couple of series I was still viewing, but it's due to licensing and the app vendor is only half at fault. I was just getting to season two of League of Gentlemen when it fell off of my Hulu list. That was BBC and Hulu doing that to me, both share the blame for me having to go fetch the DVDs and not bother with them for this content. I'm a local viewer, watching local shows, I want no trouble from BBC/Hulu!

"YouTube TV meanwhile, is set to launch in the US later this spring with a skinny bundle of 40 channels - combining networks from broadcast and cable, including" many channels I would not want on their own, much less bundled together! TRY AGAIN!!1!

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Yet another subscription i will be expected to have if i want to watch everything?

I suspect getting into the fray in a saturating market may be why Apple aren't really pushing hard. They may, for now, be happy to be just another player, keeping their finger in the pie and an eye on what's happening around them, but with no great commitment.

We tend to expect big corporations wanting to dominate in all markets they step into. This might be an exception to the rule.

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You don't seem to understand streaming at all

If you want access to the same package of channels you can get from your traditional TV provider, that is never going to come from a single streaming provider. A lot of what you pay Directv, Comcast etc. is going straight to the networks, so if you're hoping to get what you pay $120/month for now for $40/month streaming, keep dreaming. It is probably more expensive for them to deliver via internet.

Think about it this way. The kind of satellites Directv is using for delivery cost a few hundred million dollars including launch costs and so forth. They need a fleet of five to cover everything (they have a few more now, but that includes old ones with less capacity etc.) and they last about 20 years. So let's say they wanted to replace them all today, that would mean they cost Directv $100 million per year. Directv has over 20 million subscribers, so that means their satellite fleet costs $5/yr, or less than 50 cents a month. I wonder how much it costs them for bandwidth/peering to deliver a terabyte of data for a month? Even if it is less than 50 cents, that doesn't leave much room for any significant savings.

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Eating dinosaur droppings

I don't want to subscribe to a channel or to a 'bundle'. I just want to watch every episode of The Expanse, Better Call Saul, Preacher, Black Mirror and a few other series shortly after they're made available. If only there was some kind of common micropayment system that every provider used. In the meantime, I'll carry on using a different and very convenient way of watching them.

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Re: Eating dinosaur droppings

"I'll carry on using a different and very convenient way of watching them."

In modern terms, would that be a disruptive crowdsourced model?

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Isn't it inspiring

How internet journos making 5 bucks an hour have advice on how multi billion dollar companies should invest a few billion of their shareholders money build a tv network from scratch and make it profitable.

ElReg, stick to what you know.

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Re: Isn't it inspiring

The article wasn't written by Reg staff - it was written by 'Faultline'. There's a description of that group at the bottom of the article.

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"57 Channels .... " [and counting] ..

".... and Nothing On".

Well said, Brucey.

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Content is king

... alway was and always will be.

Apple will need to 'land' a major OTT publisher at the very least to make Apple TV really work.

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When making....

...billions just isn't enough.

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What is up with Apple? We get the new Google TV streaming service with unlimited tuners and unlimited space so the first network TV on demand and get the show about writing apps and Karaoke Cab from Apple?

Really? No VR or AR or 4K or HDR or Mesh or Smart Speaker or Siri that works or 2 in 1 or well you get the idea.

What is wrong with Apple?

Apple just abruptly ended the AirPort line last November causing me to replace our AirPort Extremes with Google WiFi (GW). GW is an excellent product and suspect many others will replace their AirPorts as Apple discontinued with the GW. Does Apple just not care any longer?

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Anonymous Coward

"Apple just abruptly ended the AirPort line last November causing me to replace our AirPort Extremes with Google WiFi (GW)."

What's up with your network gear, did it suddenly catch fire and needs replacing? They last refreshed that line in 2013, but how often does it need it? You can still get new AirPort Extreme Routers today, and I did not see any notice that they are no longer in production. Where did you get that from? I also still have a 1st gen AirPort Extreme in daily use and it received a firmware update just a few month's past. These routers may reach the end of their useful shelf life, but my router is still going strong after 10 years online. 10. And they are still releasing security updates for it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AirPort_Extreme#1st_generation

Again, 10 years later and the hardware is still supported. Try that with your GW, friend. Please let us know in 2027 how that router is doing okay? I love my Google free accounts and apps and Chrome, but as for hardware? Apple's dumpsters hold better kit than what you can get from our friends at the big G. I don't even know a single person considering their routers, let alone ChromeCast, other than me, and I am not ready for this router yet:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Wifi

Where did those Google Glasses Go? I would have used them, but nothing... *crickets* Android? The poster child of OS fragmentation. I have Same-song Android devices that never saw more than one OS update in their life. I'm still waiting for my Tab 2 to get past Kit-Kat. :P Like I said, let us know the support situation for your new GW router in 2027, guy?

So, if you actually went out and purchased new kit, because this other kit is "no longer being made" then you are an idiot. Otherwise, you are being a shithead, because you're lying. There are no other options. IRL I will pickup the latest gen of AirPort Extreme for a spare, and probably never need it. I also have a Linksys WRT as a spare, but again never needed it, so it does duty as a test network.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linksys_WRT54G_series#WRT54GL

If there's some scary new tech in the Google Wifi device, then let it show itself. Otherwise, I'll stick with tried and true network kit for my uses. And just now I used it to out someone completely making up a story, and doing a very crap job of it. Busted.

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I think that the Media Companies are scared of Apple

I seem to get the impression that they think that signing up with Apple is like signing away their soul to the devil.

I wonder if they fear that Apple will shake up their cozy life (Hollywood Accounting rulez ok) and make them become honest players (or worse).

Apple has dabbled in content creation but so far it is only that.

If the Apple behmoth/juggernaut gets to grips with the media creators then like so many markets before, their lives won't be the same again.

Good or Bad, Apple wading into a market does seem to shake things up. I wonder if without Mr Jobs, we'd still have DRM on Music we purchase? Would we still be using featurephones if the iPhone had not arrived? Without thew iPhone would Android be the force it is today? etc etc

There are a lot of Apple haters here but they have done us all a lot simply by being Apple.

It might be the case that indeed Apple are the Devil incarnate but in an industry where none of the Harry Potter films actually made a profit (according to the Hollywood Accounting Rulez) there is not room for a huge shakeup and making them( Fox, Universal etc) play by the same rules as thew rest of business.

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WTF?

The second coming?

According to the article, "In 2007, Steve Jobs described Apple TV as a “hobby” when the company first unveiled the fledgling product, but ten years on, little seems to have changed in his absence."

Absence???? He's coming back? When?

I know he did it once, but the circumstances were slightly different. The first time he was effectively forced out. This time he's dead. I doubt that, however much Apple wish for his return, he's going to come back. And if he did, he'd probably want braaaaaiiiins.

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Re: The second coming?

Well, it's almost easter, so the timing would work out nicely... unless it turns out to be Zombie Steve.

Hey, on second thoughts, that could make a great mini series - late CEO comes back from the grave to haunt his successors that mess up his company. Yeah, I'd watch that.

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Floyd said it.

How much TV can a person watch in a lifetime?

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Content licensing breaks everything

I have an ATV, I quite like it I can use it as an AirPlay device, mirror my Mac on it and I use it for YouTube/Netflix/iPlayer/4OD/Plex. there isn't an Amazon app for it which is a PITA as I've only 2 HDMI sockets on my TV and the other one has the BD player in. Ideally I'd have a smart telly that has all the functionality built in so I can just keep the DB player for the odd occasion when it's used.

But I don't want to have a subscription to Netflix, and another to Amazon Prime, and another to Apple, and another to something else all to just watch the odd thing that I do. Would be nice to just have a box that lets me watch anything on no matter who makes it and I'd just get an invoice at the end of the month paid via direct debit.

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Re: Content licensing breaks everything

It would be nice, but all the media distributors know it would KILL them, so they're forcing everyone into captive markets. After all, if the most-demanded show is under your control, you can dictate terms. It's just that no one really knows from week to week what that show is, so they have to pick and choose.

Unless the viewing audience gets more buying power than the distributors (and that's gonna be a tall order since contracts can easily run nine figures), the status quo will continue.

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Re: Content licensing breaks everything

If it's not FTA (or sometimes even if it is) and it's something I want to watch, then I buy DVD/BD.

I don't have enough cap for video, nor enough speed for two people to watch different VOD/IPTV and a third have any internet left.

This situation applies to 30% to 70% of people, depending on country.

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Re: Content licensing breaks everything

What if it's something LIVE you want to watch? Most of these never get seen again, not even on DVD/BD.

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Or just wait a few years and watch it on Freeview.

I'm a few seasons behind on GoT etc etc. I care not.

I stopped following F1 when it disappeared from TV3 in NZ and went to Sky where you have to pay for an entire sports channel which is 60 bloody percent rugby, just to watch ~16 F1 races each year. No thanks.

I'm not paying for bundles just to watch a few shows. Sod that.

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No new ideas

Apple doesn't seem to have any new ideas after Jobs passed away. Apple TV is the one remaining Jobs idea that they have left.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No new ideas

the current Apple Hardware manager for the TV line is(was last week) a Brit called Andy; the supply chain rumors from China indicate a 4K capable AppleTV5 coming soon-ish. Unfortunately in my part of the EU I don't yet grok how I'll be able to feed 4K content to my ATV5, both of my internet ISP's are a bit iffy in terms of bandwidth. Perhaps i can try z-modem for 4K and aim to get one program a week?

I do have an ATV, a pair of ATV2, a pair of ATV3's and no-idea why I should try ATV4_32G or 64G. I'll probably try an ATV5 when it emerges in September

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Not Available in Your Region

No matter what any of these companies do, the 30 million people in Canada won't be offered the service, or will get 30% of the content offered to IP addresses five miles south of here.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not Available in Your Region

That's a sovereignty issue there. The EU has a cross-licensing agreement, but no such thing exists in North America. Each country gets to dictate terms as to who gets what copyright license. And then there's the matter of Quebec that pushes the need for French versions to boot.

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Really get my goat...

The media companies just milk the consumers, really hate the fu|<ers, most of all I despise sky, I will never have any product produced by that company, I wish to go on a rant, but will spare my fellow elReg readers!

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Gimp

Coming up next on Apple Premier!!

The Steve Jobs movie marathon! (Yes, that is "Steve Jobs" shown 24 hours a day.)

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Unless Apple, YT et al come up with a Kodi like service or device, Apple TV is dead in the water. Except perhaps for the fanboys.

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