Will Apple’s new shows be shown outside Apple’s walled garden?

Philip Elmer-DeWitt

When Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht signed Octavia Spencer, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, M. Night Shyamalan, Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, I had assumed not. Over at Macquarie, analysts argued both sides of the case and came to a different conclusion.


Analyst Ben Schachter writes for the majority (from a note to clients excerpted by Barron’s Tiernan Ray):

For maximum penetration of its forthcoming [over the top] OTT service, we think Apple could align the service more with the iTunes strategy on desktops – operating system and hardware agnostic – and less like some of its apps exclusive to iOS. This has already been tested somewhat with Apple Music being available on Android devices (although the number of Android Apple Music subs is likely de minimus), and many expect the entire Apple Music platform will ultimately be the foundation for the video content distribution service. From a media reach perspective, limiting Apple OTT to only Apple devices may dampen competitiveness and quality of content given the degree of ubiquitous penetration of other services – Prime Video and YouTube TV for example. These services, despite being backed by hardware and OS ecosystems of their own, are distributed across smart TV operating systems, third-party OTT dongles, and mobile devices. Apple may decide it has to do the same in order to have the broadest reach, relevance, and scale…

Our media team thinks this may also be an opportunity for Apple to develop a “services-specific ecosystem” given the head start Apple Music may give a fledgling Apple OTT service; we think it too has to expand well beyond its current distribution points – Apple Music would make for easy delivery of Apple OTT marketing to users across the ecosystem, even those on the fringe who don’t own Apple hardware but subscribe to Music. As Apple increasingly becomes a services story, and the offerings expand, so too must the independence of its ecosystem, and the company may realize a video platform is strategically central to this as a flagship consumer-facing product.

My take: This is a question Spencer, Spielberg, Aniston, Shyamalan, Winfrey and Witherspoon must have asked before they signed with Apple. The answer will be in the contracts, no? Paging Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.