When HBO announced HBO Now, the thing that seemed like a mistake to many was its Apple exclusivity. There may be a lot of Apple devices in the world, but when it comes to set-top boxes, Apple is far from a market leader. In fact, they are barely a market player. Their numbers are beat by nearly every set-top box and console on the market. Why, then, would they have launched Apple exclusive?
That exclusivity may have already ended, but that is not the end of the odd behavior. This week, CBS announced that they would be releasing a Showtime streaming service to compete with HBO Now. This would give users the ability to interact with Showtime content without needing a cable subscription, giving potential cord cutters one more reason to pull the plug, literally and figuratively.
The service will launch in July, with an expected date of July 12. This is based on Showtime's plan to launch in time for the Masters of Sex and Ray Donovan premieres. The service will run users in the United States $10.99 per month and will offer live channels and on demand content. There is one annoying caveat: the service is launching Apple exclusive.
iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad and Apple TV owners will be the only ones capable of using the service at launch, though the company has said that other platform announcements are incoming. So why would a service obviously aimed at cord cutters, designed to be watched on a television premiere on a platform that is statistically insignificant? It is all about Apple trying to make Apple TV a worthwhile product.
Right now, the device is fairly useless. Outside of these occasional exclusive launches, there has been very little reason to own one. There are more services available on Roku, more capabilities on Xbox and easier ways to share a screen from a phone or computer. Apple is making the device the hub for its upcoming HomeKit offerings, but that is unlikely to be enough to grab the attention of users. What they need is content, and they clearly believe that short-term initial lock-ins are the way to do it.