Mangled zombie corpses, gratuitous swearing, and graphic sex scenes: in an age that is saturated with always accessible content, we have grown accustomed to shocking and profane.
For many, these tropes are a key part of the draw to new TV shows and films. In February this year, Netflix revealed their Top 20 most binged first shows (in other words, the shows that got people into the habit of bingeing in the first place). The list features a number of series containing extreme violence, profanity and sex, including Breaking Bad, Narcos, American Horror Story and Peaky Blinders, which took positions first, fifth, eighth and ninth positions respectively.
For the more reserved, this may open up questions about the emotional state of the cultural zeitgeist. But, one thing is for sure, the consumer appetite is for extreme content that will push the boundaries of comfortability.
It is surprising then that a report released by the Wall Street Journal earlier this week suggests that Apple’s currently under-wraps streaming service may be taking a decidedly and deliberately more conservative approach.
Following the example they have set with their App Store by forbidding adult content, the report indicates that Apple’s streaming service will avoid offering shows containing mature themes.
This is not only bad news for the lover of gruesome post-apocalyptic dramas and graphic thrillers about drug cartels, but also possibly bad news for Apple itself.
Unlike brands such as Netflix and Hulu who made their name in the world of streaming, Apple has a pre-existing reputation in clean-cut minimalistic, highly innovative hardware. With this in mind, it’s easy to understand why Apple might be wary of blood-spatters and bullet holes which could risk marring their polished image.
This reserved approach might hold more promise if Apple weren’t followers to the video streaming category. Whilst prioritising more wholesome content could be considered a market niche, it also presents a big missed opportunity. (Not to mention the fact that Disney’s headway in the market is likely to grant them the position of inoffensive streaming provider).
The needs of the consumer cannot be ignored. No matter how principled Apple may want to be, the reality is they are late entrants to an already saturated market. To be in with any opportunity of getting a piece of the content pie, they will need to think carefully about how to reconcile their current brand with the needs & aspirations of their potential audience.