Apple’s video streaming strategy may be getting clearer with a report that its subscription TV service will go live in November and cost $9.99 per month.
According to Bloomberg, the tech giant will include just a handful of shows at the start with plans to expand. At $9.99, the service would be the same price as its basic Apple Music and Apple News+ subscription services.
Apple TV+ is part of the company’s broader push to goose its service revenues as iPhone sales stagnate. The company is also getting ready to introduce Apple Arcade, its subscription gaming service which reportedly will cost $4.99 per month.
Apple TV+ will allow for a free trial period, according to Bloomberg. It will enter a tough landscape, facing streaming leader Netflix which also offers its basic service at $9.99 but has already spent several years building its original content catalogue. So has Amazon.com for its Prime Video service.
In terms of timing, it looks like Apple TV+ will debut about the same time as the Disney+ streaming service. The latter will have a monstrously large content library, thanks to its Star Wars, Pixar, and Marvel properties but only cost $6.99 per month. Disney will also offer a bundle for $12.99 per month that includes Hulu and ESPN.
Down the road, AT&T and NBCUniversal will be rolling out their own competing services.
In the face of this competitive landscape, the Financial Times reported that Apple has massively increased its budget for original programming, from a previously announced $1 billion to $6 billion.
That’s still short of the $15 billion Netflix is on track to spend, but Apple is a cash machine with nearly limitless resources to close that gap over time if it chooses. Over the long term, Netflix is financing those shows through debt, which could be problematic if the coming wave of competition slows subscriber growth.
Bloomberg says it’s unclear just how Apple TV+ will release shows, whether it’s one week at a time or a few at the start. Apple did not confirm the pricing or the launch date to Bloomberg.
Among Apple’s first shows is the “The Morning Show.” The company just released the first full trailer. Bloomberg notes that Apple will spend $300 million for two seasons of the show.
Apple’s other challenge will be the availability of the service. While most other services will be available through a mix of apps and browsers, Apple TV+ will be part of the Apple TV app.
The good news for the company is that Apple TV+ will immediately have broad international reach. Users can view it via the company’s Apple TV device, and it will be pre-installed on devices such as the iPhone and iPad. It will also be available via Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Samsung televisions, Bloomberg says.
By the same measure, it appears the service will be restricted to customers who have access to one of those platforms. Just how much that could limit the growth of Apple TV+ will be interesting to see.