One area where Apple was hoping to compete was in live entertainment. The company has been rumored since the launch of Apple TV+ to acquire the streaming rights to live sporting events. Apple assembled a live sports team in early 2020, and since then, poached Amazon’s sports content lead James DeLorenzo to head up its sports department, keen to tap into Amazon’s sports market.
In recent years, Amazon’s found success in licensing sporting events like the US Open, ATP Tour, and Premier League football, which added millions of subscribers to Amazon Prime. By acquiring NHL, NBA, or NASCAR rights, Apple could incentivize families to make the commitment to its service, and even tier TV+ accordingly. Another area where Apple hopes to expand its live entertainment offering is in music, and with the launch of Apple Music TV, it’s made the first step in taking TV+ to the next level.
Apple Music TV, which is free-to-air and available on the Apple TV app in the United States, will offer exclusive music video premiers, curated music video blocks, as well as live shows and events. Apple says that it also plans to introduce chart countdowns and invite special guests to the channel, bulking out its live entertainment offering, tying in with Apple Music.
Apple premiered the new channel on Monday, October 19, counting down the top 100 all-time most-streamed songs in the United States. It followed with a special to celebrate the release of Bruce Springsteen’s “Letter to You” album with an “all day Bruce takeover” featuring music-video blocks of his most popular videos, an interview with Zane Lowe, anchor of Apple Music’s radio station, and a special live stream fan event. In the months ahead, Apple will premier videos every Friday, building upon the success of Apple Music 1.
Apple was coy when asked about the new live channel, but the fact Zane Lowe is involved suggests the channel and Apple Music 1 – which was previously known as Beats 1 earlier in the year – will collaborate on future interviews and live events. The collaboration could even encourage the firm to relaunch its popular Apple Music Festival, an annual series of concerts in London.
What the new channel does, however, is end years of speculation that Apple would expand its music offering, in an area that has been dominated by YouTube and VEVO for many years, and MTV before. Though it’s possible to stream videos inside of the Apple Music app, most consumers take to YouTube or even Spotify to consume additional content created for fans, but the channel could reverse Apple’s fortunes and allow it to cement Apple Music as a favorite in music.
What’s particularly interesting to note is that Apple made no reference to documentaries, despite investing millions of dollars into exclusive musical shows for Apple TV+. Billie Eilish, for example, signed with Apple to release a feature-length doc “The World’s a Little Blurry” in February, and the company has already premiered Wiz Khalifa: Behind the Cam, THE WIZRD, Chris: Live From Salle Pleyel Paris, Apple Music Presents: Chris and Ed Sheeran’s Songwriter. The company has also invested in Carpool Karaoke: The Series and has greenlit a documentary on Prince. Apple could choose to use its Apple Music TV platform to premier future documentaries or serialize documentaries to encourage consumers to sign up to TV+ subscription service as it grows.
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