I took quite ill on Thursday, and literally didn’t leave the house at any point between Friday and Sunday mornings. And, like a lot of bed-ridden people, I was in far too much pain to actually think about reading, writing, or, well, thinking. Instead, I got caught up on all of the junky entertainment I never find time for otherwise. Comic I hadn’t yet read. DVR’d episodes of Top Design. And virtually all of the content on Netflix Watch Instantly.
Now, for those of you who still haven’t had the chance to try out streaming Netflix, I will say that it works incredibly well. Movies start quickly, the new interface allows you to scrub through looking for your exact place, it resumes play if you accidentally quit. (I had a few films with skewed soundtracks, but it was a rare occurrence). What’s astounding, however, is just how tiny the Netflix streaming library is compared to Hulu, iTunes, or, you know, Netflix DVD service. After a few days in bed, I’d watched literally everything that I had any interest in seeing that the streaming service had. I mean, there are only two seasons of 30 Rock.
And that’s when it hit me: everyone who’s called for Apple to start a monthly subscription model for iTunes has been almost right. There’s tons of money to be made there. But the opportunity isn’t from making its full music library available for $15 a month. It’s in charging $20-30 a month for unlimited TV show access.
Think about it: Apple has the largest library of digital downloadable video on the planet right now. Sales haven’t been as good as hoped. Apple has begun to rent movies, which means it has the DRM to prevent people from keeping a permanent copy of a rented clip on their hard drive. And yet TV shows are still available only for $1.99 each. While that’s a pretty good price, it’s not one that I’ve paid since Apple first made TV available through iTunes (I briefly had 10-pack passes for The Daily Show and Colbert way back). But I would gladly ditch my Netflix subscription and pony up the same $20 a month for unlimited rentals of the TV shows on iTunes, even without movies. That’s $240 gross from me that Apple and the TV studios wouldn’t see otherwise.
Now, if it were anyone but Apple, I would say that kind of price is too high to pay. But this wouldn’t be a streaming competitor to Hulu — it would be for files that could work on any iPod or iPhone. That’s a compelling proposition right there. It would further cement Apple’s vertical integration as the premiere agent for digital entertainment on earth. It would make an AppleTV as essential as a TiVo. It could even begin to make the cable companies nervous if Apple’s selection continues to improve (live sports being an obvious exception).
I think it’s a slam dunk. Does it make sense to you?