Apple would ‘run the entire pay TV market’ if it brought out a TV and OS

Apple could disrupt the TV market: Expert
Apple could disrupt the TV market: Expert

Apple could "run the entire pay TV market" if it manages to release compelling television hardware and software, potentially pitting the U.S. tech giant against traditional cable providers and streaming services like Netflix, an analyst has told CNBC.

The Cupertino, CA-based firm currently has Apple TV – a box that can plug into existing sets and launch apps. But Cyrus Mewawalla, head of TMT thematic research at CM Research, said Apple releasing its own TV set complete with a new operating system (OS) would make sense.

"TV today is still old fashioned. About 90 percent of it still comes from old fashioned technologies like cable, satellite and terrestrial TV. And apps like Netflix are doing so well because they have no competitor, they're just competing with other apps like Amazon and so on," Mewawalla told CNBC in a TV interview on Monday.

"But if Apple can produce what we call a pure internet TV, that is an operating system which sees what the viewer is watching, then that transforms everything. Then suddenly Netflix is competing against and entire TV built ecosystem rather than just other apps."

Mewawalla sees the new system going beyond just the streaming services available today. Instead, there will be a mixture of live TV and on-demand, making advertising a lot more targeted and potentially threatening traditional businesses.

The new Apple TV is displayed during an Apple media event in San Francisco, September 9, 2015.
Beck Diefenbach | Reuters

Currently, with plug-in devices like Apple TV and Google Chromecast, apps such as Netflix or BBC iPlayer are available, but viewing data is collected by those services. Mewawalla is suggesting that if Apple had its own TV OS, it would be the one in control of data, allowing targeted advertising more effectively.

"Big tech companies like Apple can see what you are watching. That means if you are Disney and want to place an ad you can go straight to Apple," Mewawalla said in a follow-up phone interview.

‘Dominate the industry’

It's not the first time investors have suggested Apple jump into the pay TV space. Billionaire Carl Icahn said last in an open letter that he expects Apple to launch an Ultra High Definition television set along with services.

"These guys can go and dominate an industry and they can do it because of their great ecosystem," Icahn told CNBC at the time.

But Apple's TV plans may not come to fruition any time soon. A report by the Wall Street Journal last May suggested that the company had "quietly shelved plans" to make a TV set.

Still, Apple needs to find new revenue streams after iPhone sales dipped in its latest quarter. But revenues from services rose 20 percent year-on-year, highlighting a key growth driver for the company and one that a TV product could potentially play in to.

"In the same way Apple pretty much runs the show in the music industry, it could run the entire pay TV market if it gets the right platform," Mewawalla said.