The First Apple Channel

Dear Tech Media,

While you’re looking for meaning in the shadows of an Apple press invite, you’re missing something important: Apple is producing content for its own distribution channel.

For the month of September, Apple is letting customers view live shows through a combination of apps, the web, and Apple TV. It’s the fourth year of the iTunes Festival in London, but this is the first year that it’s been broadcast via iTunes.

Why is this important? Let’s look at what this means for the various players involved:


As an app developer, I know what it’s like to be featured by Apple in one of its promotions. It sells a lot of product. And that, in turn, funds our creative efforts.

I’m sure the featured artists will gain fans as a result of their performances. I’ve watched a few shows and have already seen some bands that I’ll be keeping my eye on.

A lot of these artists are also probably working with Apple for the first time and getting a feel for what a more direct relationship with a distributor feels like.


As a customer, I’m all too familiar with the hassles and restrictions on digital content. It’s an eye opener to be able to play this content wherever and however I want. No crap, just good shows.

Tickets for the events are also free: seeing your favorite band in a small venue where all you have to buy are the drinks? Sign me up!

Apple has chosen the artists wisely. I couldn’t care less about some of the bands, but you should have seen my niece’s eyes light up when I told her that she could watch a free One Direction show on September 20th. Talk about keeping your customers happy!

Media Industry

The iTunes Festival shows everyone above what a world without a middle man would be like. We’re loving it: they’re fearing it.


You need an iTunes account to view these shows. If you didn’t have one already, you’ll certainly get one to see your favorite band.

The best viewing experience for these shows is on a $99 Apple TV. That’s less than the cost of a couple of tickets to see the big name acts. The drinks aren’t watered down, either.

It also sets a precedent for the future. Could this be akin to HBO creating premium content for it’s subscribers? Or Netflix producing its own shows to make it’s streaming service more desirable?

Apple first got its feet wet in the content business with music in iTunes. What we’re seeing here may be the company’s first effort in the video business.

Updated September 6th, 2012: I’ve heard from several sources that last year’s iTunes Festival was an iPad-only app (with AirPlay capabilities.) Apple has taken small, calculated steps with the Apple TV platform and this is another example of that approach.