The Startup
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The Startup

Why Apple TV+ Will Dominate The Media World

A year ago, Apple introduced Apple TV+ to the world.

The reception was lukewarm at best. People in the audience, including the Internet, began to scratch their heads in unison, wondering if we needed another Video on Demand service in an already saturated market. To make the day weirder, Apple announced a list of A-list celebrities that would be involved in Apple’s first original contents. The whole event seemed unreal and out-of-touch with what was going on with the rest of the world.

Almost a year after launching their service, Apple hasn’t quite found their footing in the VOD market. Their original series are average at best and subscriptions are dwindling. Even with A-list celebrities featuring in their series, people aren’t rushing to cut off their Netflix subscriptions nor are they flooding to Apple TV+. The closest thing to acclamation that Apple TV+ has received were 18 Emmy nominations for their original contents this year. It’s an impressive feat, but that number doesn’t even come close to Netflix’s 160 nominations or HBO’s 107. To a lot of people, Apple TV+ seems like a big mistake, one that could cost Apple their reputation.

This morning, however, Apple made a bold statement about what they thought about their streaming service. On the front page of their website, a place usually reserved for big announcements, Apple headlined the words “18 Emmy Nominations. And we’re just getting started”. The headline sounded more like a war declaration than an announcement. Apple pretty much declared that they were taking Apple TV+ seriously, that they wanted to dominate the media world. We’ve seen this attitude before countless times, with the iMac launch of 1998, and the first iPhone announcement. As history has shown us, when Apple is ready to go to war, they will disrupt an entire industry if need be. In other words, Netflix and the rest of the media industry should take Apple TV+ seriously, deadly seriously.

So what makes Apple TV+ such a huge threat to media giants like Netflix and Amazon? It all has to do with Apple’s large swath of user data.

With the mega success of the iPhone, Apple has been able to gather data on a billion users and use those data to fine-tune their products. According to Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jonathan Buckley, Apple has loads of data about customers “which gives them unprecedented information they can then use when designing new products or the latest version of existing devices.” In other words, Apple uses their customer’s data to understand their behaviors. By collecting a large amount of user data, Apple can study a wide range of different factors including cognition, emotions, and cultural influences to understand what makes customers “like” their products. This particular discipline in studying people’s behavior and how it affects their decision-making is called behavioral economics.

Of course, Apple isn’t the only company to use big data to improve their own products. Netflix, for example, also collects and analyzes data about what their users watch to determine what to produce. In the same vein, Amazon Prime Video also collects data on their users to produce content that they’ll like. But neither company possesses the same breadth of data that Apple has on their users.

Apple’s data is collected from all of the products under their belt, including the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and MacBook. Their data can show what gets their users excited and their hearts jumping (Apple Watch heart monitor), what they identify as (Memojis), what they like to search on the web, and countless others. Imagine that and multiply it by a billion users, and Apple has a wealth of data on what makes people happy, sad, excited, nervous, and scared. In other words, Apple’s data can show the full spectrum of the human experience. Let that sink in for a second.

With this data, Apple can fine-tune their contents to meet the customer’s needs, in the same way they would for any Apple products.

Apple likes to portray itself as the better angels when it comes to protecting user privacy. In some aspect, they do a better job in protecting their users’s data and making sure they don’t fall into the wrong hands, like what happened with Cambridge Analytica. But when it comes to benefitting themselves, Apple liberally uses their customers’ data to improve their own products.

With so much data in their hands, imagine how much Apple can turn around Apple TV+. Sure it’s had a slow run since the beginning (creators leaving projects due to creative differences; low subscriptions; not having enough contents) but with enough time, Apple can improve it. They have all the resources available. Buckley claims that “Apple has only scratched the surface of what is capable of with Big data.” Indeed, Apple is only getting started.

Originally published at on September 5, 2020.



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John Lim

John Lim

Writer, coffee enthusiast, tech geek, and occasional Korean cook.