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February 15, 2016updated 04 Sep 2016 10:16pm

Apple, Dr. Dre and Amazon: Is original video the new streaming battleground?

News: Why content is showing more than just the Vital Signs.

By Alexander Sword

The decision by Apple to develop its own television show puts it firmly in competition with Amazon in the emerging battleground for tech giants: original content.

A six-episode series starring hip hop legend Dr. Dre called ‘Vital Signs’ will be available to Apple Music subscribers only. According to the Wall Street Journal, it will be loosely based on the life story of Dr. Dre, who grew up in the Los Angeles suburb Compton before catapulting to success as the producer of the rap group N.W.A.

Apple producing its own material follows similar moves by some of its rivals in the music streaming space.

With Amazon, the original video content came first, and the music followed. Amazon launched its own music streaming service as part of the Amazon Prime bundle in July 2015. At the time of launch, Amazon offered a catalogue of ‘over 1 million’ songs, compared to the 30 million offered by Spotify and Apple Music.

Amazon’s offering is cheaper, however; the £79 per year Amazon Prime membership compares to the £9.99 charged by Spotify and Apple Music, coming in at around two thirds of the cost.

Spotify recently added a "Shows" tab to its long-existing music streaming service, offering content from outlets including the BBC.
These moves come as viewership for long-form video content, such as movies and television on a TV screen, shows a steady decline. A report by Accenture in April 2015 found that this category had declined by 13 percent globally over the previous year.

This comes as video streaming, meanwhile, expands massively. According to a recent report, 42.5 billion streaming hours were watched through Netflix in 2015.

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Additionally, as mobile data plans become cheaper and devices become more powerful, more video will be consumed via mobile devices. According to Cisco, by 2020 video will take 75 percent of mobile internet traffic as opposed to 55 percent now.

The approach to video by technology giants has been far more proprietary than their approach to music. This flows from the logic of the two formats; due to the way that music is published, the rights are made available to streaming services at the publishers’ discretion.

Broadly, music streaming services tend to have similar catalogues and it is harder to gain a monopoly on one artist.

This does not mean this does not still happen, however. Taylor Swift’s music is available through Apple Music but not Spotify, while Kanye West has published his new album the Life of Pablo solely to Tidal.

However, the owners of these services can use original video content to lure in users and make their platform more appealing.

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