How will Apple TV+’s bare cupboard compete in the streaming wars?


It’s a bold move considering that Apple’s Arcade gaming service, also $8 a month and launching on Friday, boasts of 100 games.

Sure, Apple had a giant press event to launch new phones, but it was more of a “been there, done that” affair. The trio of new phones will have more power, longer-lasting battery (says Apple) and an improved camera. That may well be, but where have we heard that one before?

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The announcement that turned heads was the $US4.99 for TV+, at a time when many analysts had expected Apple to price it at $US9.99. In Australia, the price will be $7.99. For a kicker, Apple’s giving the service away for one year to anyone who buys a new iPhone, iPad, iPod or Mac.

So the end game is perhaps to sell more iPhones, noted analyst Rich Greenfield to The Hollywood Reporter: “If Apple can get people spending hours a week watching its content, they’re going to be more likely to buy its devices.”

But again, the question comes back to $8 a month for just a handful of shows, a lineup that will certainly expand in the coming months.

“This is classic Apple,” notes Gene Munster, an analyst and investor with Loup Ventures. “Have fewer things, presumably of a higher quality.”

Compared with Netflix and its bulk of original shows (Orange Is the New Black, Stranger Things) and movies, Apple’s cupboard is pretty bare.

But how does it compare to other services?

Apple, indeed, has the lowest-priced of the premium subscription services, but only by $1.

For $8.99 you can get Disney+ (launching on November 19), and its complete library of classics, along with new series that include The Mandalorian, based on Star Wars movies, an update of the High School Musical franchise, the return of the Disney Channel classic Lizzie McGuire and a live-action remake of the 1955 film The Lady and the Tramp.

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As you go up the pricing escalator, you’ll find a few services that start at $9.99. There’s 10 All Access, which features a back-catalgogue of content from 10 and CBS (Sabrina, NCIS), but in the original department isn’t actually that far off from Apple. They include The Good Fight, the sequel to The Good Wife, a remake of The Twilight Zone and the acclaimed Why Women Kill with Ginnifer Goodwin.

Stan starts at $10, but you’ll need to pay $14 for HD streaming and $17 for 4K (Apple and Disney offer 4K at the base price). It offers a mix of premium US TV shows including Dexter and The Handmaid’s Tale, along with a library of older movies and TV series and exlusives like Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Veronica Mars and Better Call Saul.

Similarly Netflix starts at $10, up to $14 for HD and $18 for 4K, for its massively diverse library of originals plus a big back catalogue of movies and TV.

Can Apple survive with just a handful of shows, even if they have stars like Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon in the lead?

“Apple needs a library to augment the originals,” says Daniel Ives, an analyst with Wedbush Securities. “They’ll either have acquired one by the time they launch or soon thereafter.”

And he believes that Apple will boast of more 100 million subscribers within three years because of the strength of its retail Apple Store and iPhone base of nearly 1 billion users.

Indeed, on a historical basis, if everyone who bought a new Apple product over the next year accepted the free Apple TV+ subscription, that would be 260 million subscribers, way more than Netflix’s 150 million.

So maybe the thinner cupboard doesn’t matter.

USA Today, with staff reporters

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