A new shift in Apple’s approach to streaming services means that it will no longer take a 30% commission within “premium subscription video” services like Amazon Prime Video, which means Amazon customers can now buy or rent videos on their iPhones or Apple TV devices.
Apple has had a longstanding policy of taking a 30% cut from all in-app purchases made on iOS devices. That policy has rubbed many developers the wrong way and caused big companies like Amazon to restrict digital purchases within its apps. In Amazon’s Kindle app for iOS, for instance, people can access their existing Kindle library but there is no way to buy new titles from Amazon within the app.
“Apple has an established program for premium subscription video entertainment providers to offer a variety of customer benefits — including integration with the Apple TV app, AirPlay 2 support, tvOS apps, universal search, Siri support and, where applicable, single or zero sign-on,” an Apple spokesperson told CNBC. “On qualifying premium video entertainment apps such as Prime Video, Altice One and Canal+, customers have the option to buy or rent movies and TV shows using the payment method tied to their existing video subscription.”
In other words, these transactions will no longer be required to go through Apple’s payment system tied to its customers’ Apple ID, and therefore won’t receive a commission on purchases or rentals.
As much as this move may seem like a willingness on Apple’s part to let app developers keep more of their revenue, it’s more likely designed to encourage streaming services to participate fully in Apple’s TV app. Apple has been actively pushing its all-encompassing streaming environment app to smart TVs, streaming devices, and platforms like Android.
At the moment, there are some awkward aspects to Apple’s system. When people sign up for an HBO subscription within Apple TV, that same subscription can’t be used to access HBO content outside of the Apple TV app using the HBO Now app, and the same is true in reverse: HBO Now subscribers can’t access their subscriptions inside the TV app.
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu programming can all be tracked through the TV app, but to actually watch this content the TV app pushes you to those services’ respective third-party apps — far from the ideal watching experience that Apple has in mind.
It’s possible that Apple’s shift regarding premium subscription video content within third-party apps will trickle down to these TV app relationships, too, finally letting Apple fulfill its vision for its TV strategy.
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