Apple takes on Amazon Prime and Netflix

New content: (Clockwise from top left) Jennifer Aniston; sci-fi series Amazing Stories; Steven Spielberg; crime adaptation Defending Jacob; Oprah Winfrey; true crime show Are You Sleeping?

Last night, Apple announced that it will create original shows and films for its hotly-anticipated streaming platform, Apple TV+. Should traditional TV still have a place?

Onstage last night, Oprah Winfrey helped launch Apple’s brand new streaming service.

In a huge change of direction, Apple will invest $1 billion to create its own original content.

Hollywood stars like Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey have already signed up to work with Apple. Upcoming shows include true crime series Are you sleeping?, and Little America, which will explore the lives of immigrants.

But competition is fierce. The new platform will compete with giants like Amazon and Netflix.

Meanwhile, viewer numbers for scheduled TV are tumbling. Last year, streaming overtook traditional TV for the first time ever among UK viewers.

This new age of streaming TV is putting Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) under threat.

According to Ofcom, the purpose of PSB is “to reflect the UK back to itself, bring the nation together at key moments, and inform and educate society.” PSB programmes range from live news to arts documentaries or home-grown dramas like ITV’s Victoria.

Since 1936, the BBC has been the country’s main PSB provider. Over the decades its broadcasts have unified the country at important moments, from royal weddings and World Cups to general elections.

But that tradition is crumbling. Today, more young people in Britain have heard of YouTube and Netflix than the BBC.

Inform. Educate. Entertain.

Can Public Service Broadcasting survive? Should it? If numbers keep falling, why should the public have to pay a licence fee for a service they don’t want? Will all channels one day be subscription services like Netflix?

The proponents of PSB say that TV plays an important role in education, culture and citizenship, especially in the age of fake news. Will the death of PSB make us more divided? Or is the streaming revolution creating better shows for everyone?

You Decide

  1. Has streaming been good for TV?


  1. Write a timeline of the development of television through the 20th century.

Some People Say...

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

Groucho Marx

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Apple TV+ is expected to cost £9.99 a month. US chat show host Oprah Winfrey will front a series of documentaries for the new service, the first of which will look into the “scourge and toll of sexual harassment in the workplace”.
What do we not know?
Whether Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) has a sustainable future. A report from Ofcom says the BBC can survive by appealing to young people.

Word Watch

An Apple TV app already exists, but currently it only hosts shows from other services like Amazon Prime and iPlayer.
An independent body that regulates broadcasting and the media.
PSB is intended to benefit the public rather than to serve commercial interests. Many arts, culture, religious and educational programmes are considered a public service.
Licence fee
Everyone in the UK who watches TV must pay a licence fee which funds the BBC.

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