Online video streaming war looms with Apple’s S$7 video streaming service

September 13th, 2019 | by Grace Chng
Online video streaming war looms with Apple’s S$7 video streaming service
Jennifer Aniston is on The Morning Show, coming to Apple’s new video streaming service. PHOTO: Apple handout

An online video war is looming. The maker of iPhone, Apple is expanding its services business with Apple TV+.

From November 1, the service kicks off in 100 countries, ahead of great rival Disney which is expected to unveil its offerings before the end of the year. In Singapore, the Apple service will cost S$6.98 a month.

The upcoming war is played on two levels: price and content.

At S$6.98, Apple’s new service is cheaper than the Netflix entry-level subscription of S$10.98. Disney has yet to announce its subscription plans.

The other global contender is Amazon, whose Prime members pay US$119 (S$163) per year or US$12.99 per month for services like overnight shipping and video streaming. Both of these are buffet-style subscription plans – one price for unlimited titles.

Both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have funded new Web titles like the drama Orange Is The New Black and the spy series Jack Ryan respectively.

They started streaming video by licensing titles from other studios and production houses. A BusinessInsider report in February 2018, noted that Netlix inventory includes 1,569 TV shows and 4,010 movies.

Together with Amazon Prime Video, Netflix also offers “long tail” titles including Sean Connery’s 007 James Bond series as well as 1970s and 1980s Chinese kung-fu movies, all of which do not have mass appeal but have a base of fans.

Disney, on the other hand, is a different competitor. Unlike Netflix, Amazon and Apple, it is an established player in the movie business. Its stable of titles are unbeatable.

It has worldwide audiences following familiar and compelling blockbusters including the Star Wars series; Toy Story and other delightful animation from Pixar; Avengers, Captain Marvel and other Marvel superhero characters. Plus, don’t forget Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast and others from the Walt Disney Pictures.

Apple rivals look unstoppable. However, the iPhone maker isn’t dissuaded. With Apple TV+, it is financing reportedly more than US$1 billion to commission several fresh and never-seen-anywhere before dramas, comedies, talk shows, movies and documentaries.

Headlining these productions are Hollywood A-listers like Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston and Jason Momoa.

Apple TV+ offers an impressive lineup of original titles including The Morning Show, Dickinson, See, For All Mankind and The Elephant Queen.

Book worms will also have something to look forward to with Oprah Winfrey’s global book club Web show that will also debut from Nov 1.

At first glance, the titles look very American-centric, until I watched some of the trailers. Then I was thrilled. I wouldn’t watch all of them because they don’t appeal to me.

I’m a sci-fi/science follower, fantasy buff and animation/cartoon fan, so here are three TV titles that I can’t wait to watch:

-See, a fantasy set in a world where humans have lost their sight. When three babies were born with sight, war ensued. Starring Jason Momoa of Aquaman fame, the trailer is breath catching.

For All Mankind: this is the 50th anniversary of man’s first step on the moon taken by American astronaut Neil Armstrong. But what happens if the Russians had taken that first step? This is the “what if” series and how the Americans planned to land on Mars, Saturn and other planets.

Snoopy in space. Snoopy is one of my all-time favourite cartoon strips. Now he’s heading for the moon. With all the protest and trouble spots in the world, Snoopy will put a smile on anyone’s face.

Other titles cover a wide gamut of themes. Fans of the sitcom, Friends, will be happy to see Jennifer Aniston taking a lead role in The Morning Show, a series about the politics of a morning TV programme. She will star alongside Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell.

There is a documentary called The Elephant Queen, about the extinction of elephants and a drama called Dickinson about the poet poet Emily Dickinson

Now that Apple TV+ is available on Samsung smart TVs, the viewing base has also widened. How do consumers choose which service to subscribe to? It boils down to price and time. How much are you willing to pay and how much time do you have to watch?

For casual viewers who just want to catch something interesting after dinner on the telly, Netflix is a good affordable choice with not only English offerings but also Korean, Hindi and Chinese titles. For Amazon Prime customers, they can automatically access Amazon Prime Videos.

So by now, you will guess correctly that I’m a Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriber. I also watch new TV shows on Apple iTunes. And I will subscribe to Apple TV+ – which is a buffet-style offering – when it becomes available on Nov 1.

I pick what I want to watch, mostly around crime and thriller dramas, sci-fi and fantasy shows and action hero flicks. By having three services (Netflix, Amazon and Apple TV+), there will always be a new TV episode that I can enjoy.

I will pay about S$34 a month, the price of about four weekday movies at the cinema, a price to pay for comfort – able to watch at home – and for convenience, the ability to watch content at any time, any place and any where.

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