Apple TV+ faces dual challenges

Apple launched Apple TV+ about six months ago with a compelling proposition: Buy an Apple device and get a free year of the service. The standard price is just $4.99 per month.

Apple TV+ is home to the biggest directors and top stars
Apple TV+ is a streaming service that’s home to Apple Originals

Adam Levy for The Motley Fool:

Despite the offer — and selling tens of millions of devices over the last six months — just 10 million people have signed up for Apple TV+ since its launch, according to a report from Bloomberg. Just half of those sign-ups actively use the service.

MacDailyNews Take: Bloomberg quotes “people familiar with the matter” for those numbers. We wonder if those are the same people who told Bloomberg about hidden Chinese spy chips in products from Apple, Amazon, and dozens of other companies, which every single company denied categorically and about which Bloomberg has never issued a retraction.

Back in January, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple TV+ had a customer base of 33.6 million citing Ampere Analysis as their source. Last month, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives estimated that Apple TV+ had already amassed between 30-40 million subscribers.

Since the launch of Apple TV+, Apple has sold 100+ million devices that come with a year of Apple TV+ service included. Any rational person would conclude that many more that just 10 million people “have signed up” for Apple TV+. Anyone who believes just 5 million people actively use Apple TV+ — which is free to 100+ million users, most of whom have been cooped up for 2+ months starving for entertainment — will believe just about anything.

Apple’s paltry numbers highlight two challenges facing the fledgling streaming service. First, it doesn’t have content that drives mass audiences to sign up. There’s nothing on Apple TV+ that screams, “You gotta see this!”

MacDailyNews Take: That’s simply opinion based on obviously bad numbers from an anonymous source by a publication with a questionable track record.

In our opinion there are plenty of things on Apple TV+ that scream must-see (and which have already deservedly won significant awards, i.e. The Morning Show), including:

Tom Hanks WWII film ‘Greyhound’ to premiere on Apple TV+
Tom Hanks WWII film ‘Greyhound’ to premiere exclusively on Apple TV+

Seriously, just that one film cost Apple $70 million. Do you really think they going to blow $70 million to entertain just 5 million viewers. Puleeze. Even Steve Ballmer’s not that stupid.

Second, Apple’s content library is too thin to retain the subscribers it has. Even if a subscriber likes a series, there’s not much else for them to watch after they’ve finished it.

Apple is reportedly looking to build up its content library with some older films and television series.

MacDailyNews Take: Finally, after a bunch of poppycock based on blatantly bad numbers, we get to the only salient point in Levy’s piece: Apple knows they need content for the Apple TV+ library and, by all reports, they are looking to add content. Shocker.

Levy does make one other point: that Apple’s marketing efforts for the service have been anemic to date. With that we agree, but we also expect that to change.

You do not spend $70 million on a Tom Hanks feature film exclusive to simply release it without fanfare. You do not sign overall multi-million-dollar deals with the likes of Monica Beletsky, Alfonso Cuaron, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kerry Ehrin, Lee Eisenberg, Sharon Horgan, Jason Katims, Simon Kinberg, Justin Lin, Ridley Scott, Annie Weisman, and Oprah Winfrey and not market the service to which they’re contributing.

We expect Apple TV+ marketing to ramp up noticeably soon.


  1. Apple TV+ is by far, THE worst product Apple has ever put out. It’s not even close. The effort behind Apple TV+ has been an unmitigated disaster. A complete and total waste of money. Tim Cook should shut down Apple TV+ and give that money to the shareholders. He obviously has no idea what to do with it.

    1. Whether Jackie Stewart or MDN is right, its clear that the issue is heating up at Apple, in the media and with consumers. Yes Apple is spending some serious money, but so are others, I think even more so. I always wish the best for Apple in everything they do, but so far, their efforts in TV, as a whole have been uneven, at best. I use YouTube TV, Netflix and HBO GO (through free ATT deal) and am mostly happy with the three options, even though the UI’s are different. I’ve not seen anything compelling from Apple that has led me to believe they are going to win the TV war. I’m not counting them out, just disappointed, so far.

  2. I’m one of those millions of AppleTV+ users who got it free with my new iPhone. I’ve watched “For All Mankind”, really liked it, but that’s the only show I’ve watched. When I’m firing up the telly, AppleTV+ never crosses my mind.

  3. Most all the content seems to have an agenda of social virtue signaling. Apple should follow Steve’s old lead with Pixar. Make good stories that are universally appealing. One can imagine Apple’s leadership having a political correct check list.

    The best stories are the ones that transcend current fashion and social trends … Apple should make movies that stand the test of time …

  4. Apple is doing it right. They may not be doing enough of it yet, but that will come. The most important thing to keep in mind about Apple TV+ is that they set out to produce one series in every main genre, and they got a true winner out of many of them. Television networks take years to develop a slate of new shows, and the hit rate is very low. Apple, like Pixar, seems to have an uncanny ability to make hits when they make anything. We’re seeing that in television. That “early indicator” tells me they will be successful.

    1. Your views are clearly biased. Even on a fan boy place like MDN there is almost no love for Apple TV+. Instead there are constant complaints about how boring the shows are, how PC they are. Very few, almost no one, except for clear fan boys like you say anything positive about Apple TV+. I’m a subscriber, or was, until I saw how utterly awful the content is.

      I am very certain that Apple TV+ will be a total failure, at least as far as contributing profits to Apple’s bottom line. Apple simply is being crushed by their competitors.

  5. The success of AppleTV+ still remains to be seen. The current subscriber base numbers are still heavily weighted by ‘free with HW purchase’ subscribers. It remains for me a fringe streaming service good for up to 2 months a year (once every 6 months) assuming I find anything interesting I want to binge. A larger back library is a must for ATV to go long term and if they are relying on content produced themselves it is going to be a LOOOOONG road if they remain interested in the ‘marathon’;..

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