Apple Streaming Service Is “Big Moment For Media Industry & UK Producers”, Says Former Channel 4 & TLC Boss


Apple is expected to shed some light on its new video streaming service today during an anticipated livestreamed event from the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, CA. The event gets underway at 9 a.m. PT.

The streaming service rival to Netflix is expected to carry original content from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, JJ Abrams, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. It’s not clear yet what third-party content will be included on the service or on which devices it will be made available. Sports are not expected to feature in the offering for now, but Apple is also expected to reveal some kind of subscription news service today.

Speaking this morning on BBC radio, Wonderhood Studios founder David Abraham, ex-CEO of UK broadcaster Channel 4 and U.S. cable network TLC, said the launch was a watershed moment both in the U.S and internationally, “This is a big moment for the media industry globally, but it’s also a big moment for UK producers because some of these programmes will be made here in the UK. No-one can have a monopoly on hits. As we have seen with Amazon and Netflix these deep-pocketed players can have a large impact culturally and creatively. It’s an exciting moment for the industry.”

Apple’s international team includes Jay Hunt, the former controller of BBC One and chief creative officer of Channel Four, and former BBC Films executive Joe Oppenheimer.

One veteran U.S. financier told me recently he believes that if Apple commits in a significant way to funding film and TV content, they’ll “blow everyone else away, including Netflix.” Apple has been building out its content team in recent years and reportedly set aside $1B for original film and TV content between 2017-18.

Abraham acknowledged this morning that consumers seem relatively happy at the moment to shift between different low-cost online entertainment services, “There is a debate going on about how many of these services we can practically tolerate. These services are coming in at lower price points and consumers are prepared to have multiple services.”

He predicted that UK public service broadcasters such as the BBC and Channel 4 could remain vital in this shifting entertainment and news ecosystem, not least because of their significant ‘live’ components.

After much speculation, today we’ll get an official and glossy look at Apple’s film and TV ambitions. Much of the media and entertainment world will be watching with interest.

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