Yes dear readers, it’s Stuart again. I think Buckler got himself locked in the basement and is waiting for someone to bust him out.
Yes, AppleTV+ probably will be around in six months. Why? Because Apple has so much money they can do whatever they want. Certainly not because there’s a good reason for it.
The (very short) history of AppleTV+
For some reason, Apple decided sometime a few years ago that they needed to have a streaming service. I’m not sure what really motivated them to think this. Apple has always thought of themselves a trendsetting software and services company. The rest of us tend to think of them as a purveyor of stylish, but not terribly leading-edge, phones.
Apple has had a long history with its AppleTV streaming box. Originally introduced as a way to get your computer’s content on your TV, it morphed into an overpriced, but predictably capable streaming box. In it latest iteration it’s priced about five to eight times higher than the competition, and attracts attention from those people wedded to the Apple ecosystem.
In the meantime, as far as I can tell, AppleTV+ was designed to get Apple out of the hardware streaming box business and into the streaming services business. Several other manufacturers have incorporated it into their streaming devices. While this led many to think that there would never be any new Apple streaming hardware, a recent (and fairly limp) update to the AppleTV 4K seems to have put that rumor to rest.
On the horizon for AppleTV+
AppleTV+ is offered free for a year to buyers of new Apple hardware of any type, and that free trial was extended several times during the pandemic. It is now set to expire in July. Many pundits are suggesting that as many as 70% of AppleTV+ subscribers will cancel at that time. All I can say is that I will be one of them.
Despite several shows and movies with extremely high production values, it’s not really worth even the $5 a month they’ll be asking. At least not for me. Its only popular hits have been The Morning Show (which feels like it came out a decade ago) and Ted Lasso. As for the former, I found it to be well-made but ultimately not the comfort food I (and others) were seeking in 2020. As for Ted Lasso, a lot of folks do like it. It’s looked at as the bright spot in the AppleTV+ landscape. But, I’m not sure one show will be enough to guarantee continued subscribers.
Part of the problem with AppleTV+
The AppleTV+ app does double duty as a general purpose search and curation app for all your other streaming apps. Until a recent update, there wasn’t even a way to look at Apple-produced content. It’s still not the default view for the app.
The problem certainly isn’t the depth and breadth of content. While you don’t see anywhere near the amount of stuff you see on other $5 apps, it’s still a decent amount of well-produced stuff. But admittedly it tries to appeal to a lot of different small niches and there isn’t a lot of content that appeals to a large group.
I think maybe part of the problem is the lack of promotion. Discovery and Disney blanket commercial television with promos for their apps. CBS pushed their Paramount+ app pretty hard for a while too. Apple doesn’t do much promotion. Maybe if they did they would get a few more viewers.
Will I be wrong again?
I admit that I have a really terrible track record in forecasting the future. I’m probably worse than 50/50 which means that you’d be better off betting against me. But, in this case I’m not the only pundit forecasting a big drop in AppleTV+ subscribers. It’s hard to pony up even $5 for an app you use about every other month.
But of course, the truth of it is that Apple doesn’t care. Like Amazon, they have so much money in the bank that they can just put out a streaming service because they feel like it. And, they probably will. Eventually, they might get enough consistent wins that viewership increases. I doubt it. I think they’re just better off giving new users a free year of the service as a gift and not watching their subscriber numbers.