Apple Plans to be Part of Coming Big Media Changes

Apple CEO Tim Cook made it clear he wants his company to play a role in the rapidly changing market for entertainment content. He said as much during the company's second quarter earnings conference call on Monday, and called out HBO Now as an example of giving customers what they want.

Tim Cook says Apple to be part of major media industry changesTim Cook says Apple to be part of major media industry changes

Mr. Cook told investors and analysts, "We're in the early stages of major, major changes in media that are just going to be really great for consumers and Apple can be a part of that."

Apple recently partnered with HBO to launch HBO Now, a service that doesn't require cable television subscriptions to view shows such as Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The shows are viewable on Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

"We're marrying HBO's great content, our great product ecosystems," Mr. Cook said. "And it's clear from looking at the early returns that there's a lot of traction in there."

Apple has been working to bring more content to Apple TV, and in some cases it's been able to make those deals happen without the need for cable or satellite content subscriptions. Unfortunately, not every deal avoided the cable subscription limitations. Fox Now and CNBC, for example, were added in July 2014 and both offer full content access only with a cable TV subscription.

Netflix, however, has made a big splash with its original shows like Lilyhammer, Marco Polo, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Daredevil, all of which are available on Apple TV outside of cable TV subscriptions. Like HBO Now, viewers need to pay for a Netflix subscription to the service to watch the shows.

For Apple, swinging deals with HBO, Netflix, and other original content providers makes Apple TV more enticing for TV viewers looking for alternatives to cable TV and satellite subscriptions. Viewers only need a broadband Internet connection and a subscription to a streaming content service, and a US$69 Apple TV set top box.

What Apple offers today is just the beginning, and Mr. Cook plans on making sure his company is well positioned to be a big player in the online content game as it evolves. If. Mr. Cook says major changes are coming, he isn't speaking in hyperbole. Those big changes are already in motion and we'll likely start to see what he's talking about soon.

Apple has been firing warning shots across Comcast and Time Warner's bow, and Mr. Cook let another volley fly during today's earnings conference call. That's good news for viewers because Comcast, Time Warner, and Dish will need find ways to compete in the changing market—or face losing customers to online streaming viewing alternatives.