Eddy Cue: Apple is a delivery platform, not a Netflix rival (plus, skinny bundle “is a misconception”)

Eddy Cue Hollywood Reporter 001

Eddy Cue, 52, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services, sat down for an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, answering a series of questions related to Apple’s alleged attempts to introduce a skinny bundle of television programming on iTunes, its relationship with content owners and swirling rumors that it may be invested in creating original programming to become the next Netflix or Comcast.

Responding to speculation that Apple someday might buy a studio, acquire Jay Z’s Tidal streaming service or launch a streaming TV business à la Netflix, Miami-born son of Cuban immigrants waved them off, insisting Apple simply wants to be the delivery platform for digital entertainment.

“We’re not in the business of trying to create TV shows” and are not “trying to compete with Netflix or compete with Comcast,” said Cue, adding:

We all consume and love the stuff that Hollywood does. We just didn’t always love it in the way that they got it to us. So, what we could do is really make it easier for their customers, their fans, to be able to consume content in a much better way. There’s huge opportunities.

He said it doesn’t matter whether Apple can manage to build a skinny bundle of premium television programming, adding he’s not “a big fan” of the skinny bundle.

What we’re trying to do is build the platform that allows anybody to get content to consumers. If a Time Warner Cable or a DirecTV wants to offer a bundle themselves, they should do it through Apple TV and iPad and iPhone.

The problem with the skinny bundle is that users end up paying more, not less, for TV content, the executive said. Cue suspects that the pricing issue has a lot to do with the way these bundles are being provided.

If I feel like I’m not getting my money’s worth, then I want to pay less and I want less things. But if it were being provided in a rich platform with the capabilities I’m talking about, I don’t think people would feel that way.

People pay for Netflix as an add-on to TV, and they’re happy doing it. And why is that? Because they’re happy with what they’re getting from Netflix. So the question to ask about skinny bundles is, why are customers not happy?

In his mind, skinny bundles simply don’t provide the features customers want.

“The fact that I have to set things to record seems idiotic,” he quipped while also slamming counterintuitive channel guides. Calling the latest Apple TV “a lot better box than a cable box,” Cue said the device gives content providers the ability “to do things that are interactive, which they’ve never had.”

Cue, who has been with Apple for 27 years, is its dealmaker when it comes to discussions about distributing content from record labels and movie studios. In the Steve Jobs era, he was instrumental in helping persuade record labels to permit Apple to sell their music on iTunes.

In recent history, Cue has spearheaded Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics, overseen the launch of Apple Music and orchestrated a redesign of the Apple TV. He’s been visiting Los Angeles on a regular basis since the launch of Apple Music.

“It’s like a normal day at work because I can fly there in the morning and back at night,” he said.

Cue specifically denied rumors of an Apple-backed show starring Dr. Dre and confirmed that the Cupertino firm has “a lot of discussions with Time Warner”. He stopped short before commenting on the rumors that he led the discussions to acquire the media company.

“We’re not—at this point, certainly—actively trying to buy any studio,” he added.

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Source: The Hollywood Reporter