Apple’s TV Shows: What’s Their Long Game?

Apple is investing in original content TV shows, such as Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke. These shows will be viewable via Apple Music, and only available to subscribers of that service.

This is an odd way to distribute TV content however; after all, it’s Apple Music, not Apple Music and TV. (Kind of like how iTunes is about so much more than “tunes.”)

So what’s their long game? Are they investing potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in loss leaders for Apple Music? Apple knows that, while they can become a big streaming service, they’re late to the party, and companies like Spotify and Pandora have faithful users. They can’t hope to get people to subscribe to two such services, and it’s not a tired reality-show concept or a humorous singalong that will sell people on switching.

In some ways, I can understand that Apple wants to dip its feet in the TV area. On the other hand, neither of these two shows are very compelling; neither will get people switching to Apple Music. If they had a show like House of Cards, or Homeland, or Game of Thrones, that could be a tipping point for potential switchers, but is that really what Apple should be doing?

Again, it seems that spending large sums of money to get people to subscribe to a streaming music service is the wrong approach. Unless Apple’s long game is to start slow with a few shows, then build up and split them off from Apple Music. Or add an additional monthly fee to access TV shows. But they’d need a lot of content to make that worthwhile.