Tim Cook confirms Apple Music's 50 million users, push into TV and movies

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited May 15
In a wide-ranging interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook divulged Apple Music subscriber numbers, and said that a strong push into television and movies is underway.

Tim Cook


In an appearance on Bloomberg Television on "The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations,", Cook was forthcoming about paid versus trial Apple Music subscribers. He said that in total, the service has more than 50 million users between paid members and trials, in contrast to the 40 million paid subscribers the company declared in April.

Looking at Apple's growth numbers, the company appears to be posting about 4 million conversions a month to a paid subscription above and beyond any makeup for cancellations. This number has been consistent since at least January, suggesting that Apple will have about 60 million paid subscribers before the holiday season, three years after launch.

Primary competitor Spotify announced earlier in May that it has 75 million premium subscribers meeting its own targets, but profoundly disappointing Wall Street. Assuming Spotify maintains consistent growth of subscribers, it will have about 90 million paid subscribers by the start of the holiday season, and it had a eight-year head start on Apple.

Video effort

While the push into content isn't a secret, the interview was the first time that Cook directly addressed the effort.

"We are very interested in the content business. We will be playing in a way that is consistent with our brand," Cook told Bloomberg. "We're not ready to give any details on it yet. But it's clearly an area of interest."

It was reported in 2017 that Apple was investing approximately $1 billion into original video programming, but the report suggests Apple will easily extend the budget past that figure. It is claimed in recent months that it has outspent Facebook and YouTube's own original content efforts, as well as traditional TV studios, as well as defeating main competitor Netflix in some bidding wars.

A lot of this spending has taken place recently, with Apple increasing its content acquisition considerably in the last five months. Deals to produce 12 projects have been made by Apple since October alone, including nine "straight-to-series" orders without producing a pilot.

Notable deals include a revival of Amblin Television's sci-fi anthology series "Amazing Stories," a drama starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, an animated musical series from the creator of "Bob's Burgers,", and a partnership for content from high-profile rapper Drake.

Apple has also signed a lease for a building in Culver City, CA., which is expected to be its content-related headquarters. The office building, expected to open in late 2019 according to Variety, will include 128,000 square feet of office space across four stories and is minutes away away from another 85,000-square-foot production facility it has been linked to since last year.

It is also believed Apple's video efforts, under the name Apple Worldwide Video and headed by former Sony Pictures Television executives Jamie Ehrlicht and Zach Van Amburg, employs approximately 40 staff, and is creating divisions for adult drama, children, Latin American, and European programming.

Despite the expenditure's size, it is still dwarfed by Netflix's plans to spend up to $8 billion on content in 2018 alone. As revealed in an interview with Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue at SXSW earlier this month, the strategy to go for fewer shows is intentional with Cue advising "we're not after quantity, we're after quality."

"When you think of content, first of all, and you can see that here at South by Southwest, great storytelling is important," mused Cue, adding "you get great storytelling from big name people, and you get it from new and up-and-comers." Cue claims this lesson came from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs when he ran animation studio Pixar, at a time when it created its earliest hit movies.

Unnamed producers and entertainment executives who have recently talked to Apple's executives believe that Apple's efforts are being targeted for rollout somewhere between March 2019 and the summer of 2019. While it is almost certain that other video projects will arrive before the alleged release window, the supposed timeframe relates to content specifically created as part of Apple's funding efforts from the last year.

The same group also suggest Apple is seemingly leaning towards projects that keep with "its bright, optimistic brand identity." This may be seen as a "safer" route for content production that is more likely to be welcomed by viewers, with Apple supposedly shying away from programming that could be considered "gratuitously dark or heavy on social issues."
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 48
    DracarysDracarys Posts: 68member
    You can't compare the 8 year start of Spotify vs Apple, because the streaming market wasn't near what it is today 8 years ago. Spotify did all the hard legwork, Apple jumped in once the market was ready and really didn't have to do all that much work to compete.
    irelandSpamSandwichfluffhead
  • Reply 2 of 48
    stubbstubb Posts: 12member
    Would love to see Apple pick up "The Expanse". We're already watching it on our Apple TV.
    watto_cobraminicoffee
  • Reply 3 of 48
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,297moderator
    Dracarys said:
    You can't compare the 8 year start of Spotify vs Apple, because the streaming market wasn't near what it is today 8 years ago. Spotify did all the hard legwork, Apple jumped in once the market was ready and really didn't have to do all that much work to compete.
    Hmm, sounds like smart strategy, and therefore exactly why you can compare the two.  Lol
    wlymrandominternetpersonracerhomie3tmayfastasleeplolliverwatto_cobrastantheman
  • Reply 4 of 48
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,440member
    FWIW Apple push into services would result in a value of $381B as a standalone company according to Gene Munster. Not too shabby.
    edited May 15
  • Reply 5 of 48
    leptonlepton Posts: 106member
    I don't know, this content creation business is not what Apple does. What they do is enable content creation and consumption with its hardware and software. Let others make the actual content. Apple should be careful not to lose focus. That was its near-downfall last time, and this time there is no Steve to save them.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 48
    irelandireland Posts: 17,090member
    Their quality over quantity and bright more than dark play may work out well if they are able to bring content providers including Netflix and others under the “TV” app banner with a single affordable monthly fee. I don’t see how Apple can wrangle such a deal though. Surely the likes of Netflix would scoff at the idea of being virtually rebranded within the UI.

    If Apple get such a deal inked and the UI is simple and consistent and all within the TV app, they’d deserve much credit.
    edited May 15
  • Reply 7 of 48
    thrangthrang Posts: 689member
    Netflix is quite strong now... but the distant horizon is darkening with the shadows cast by Disney and Apple..
    tmayh2plolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 48
    irelandireland Posts: 17,090member
    Dracarys said:
    You can't compare the 8 year start of Spotify vs Apple, because the streaming market wasn't near what it is today 8 years ago. Spotify did all the hard legwork, Apple jumped in once the market was ready and really didn't have to do all that much work to compete.
    Hmm, sounds like smart strategy, and therefore exactly why you can compare the two. Lol
    It is somewhat funny, but I agree that it’s a somewhat disingenuous comparison. Spotify built the music streaming industry, and Apple joined it. Iovine pitched streaming music to Jobs years ago and he didn’t bite. Apple would be number one had they. Credit where credit is due. I do think the existence of a free tier isn’t good for music though. The labels should pull out of that deal now that the industry has grown up a bit. Free trial without ads and then pay or end your listening. Ads are yucky. Quality of music has larger tanked tbh.
    edited May 15 watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 48
    stubb said:
    Would love to see Apple pick up "The Expanse". We're already watching it on our Apple TV.
    Logged on to say it's too dark for Apple, but on second thought, it could work. I've read all of the novels published so far, and there is nothing particularly family-unfriendly about them. Indeed, families are a big part of the story. And it has a great multi-cultural cast that Apple can love. It is, however, apocalyptic and inherently political, so I'll still guess they will stay away from it.

    Amazon is most likely, since they are already renting the streaming rights. But someone will pick it up. The Expanse won't be another Firefly or Caprica.
    edited May 15 fastasleep
  • Reply 10 of 48
    ericthehalfbeeericthehalfbee Posts: 3,390member
    Dracarys said:
    You can't compare the 8 year start of Spotify vs Apple, because the streaming market wasn't near what it is today 8 years ago. Spotify did all the hard legwork, Apple jumped in once the market was ready and really didn't have to do all that much work to compete.


    On the flip side, one could argue that with an established player in the market it makes it far tougher for a company (Apple) to convince people to use their service over an established one.

    50 million is damn impressive. Looks like that Beats buy was a bargain.
    lolliverwatto_cobratechconc
  • Reply 11 of 48
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 4,996member
    I am a bit uncomfortable with the "consistent with our brand" philosophy because Apple can be a bit too sanctimonious and censorious. I welcome that in the App Store but not for TV, as I am an adult.

    In a world with lots of fairly good but somewhat disturbing content ( from westworld, to black mirror, to the Nordic Noir and much more) competing with the HallMark channel isn't going to be a winner.  


    bonobobwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 48
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 265member
    lepton said:
    I don't know, this content creation business is not what Apple does. What they do is enable content creation and consumption with its hardware and software. Let others make the actual content. Apple should be careful not to lose focus. That was its near-downfall last time, and this time there is no Steve to save them.
    Remember that time when Steve Jobs was in exile from Apple, and he headed up NeXT computers, and then also bought into the developing Pixar animation company?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 48
    irelandireland Posts: 17,090member
    asdasd said:
    I am a bit uncomfortable with the "consistent with our brand" philosophy because Apple can be a bit too sanctimonious and censorious. I welcome that in the App Store but not for TV, as I am an adult.

    In a world with lots of fairly good but somewhat disturbing content ( from westworld, to black mirror, to the Nordic Noir and much more) competing with the HallMark channel isn't going to be a winner.  
    No one really knows what content they’ll buy or not. 
    StrangeDayslolliver
  • Reply 14 of 48
    irelandireland Posts: 17,090member

    AppleZulu said:
    lepton said:
    I don't know, this content creation business is not what Apple does. What they do is enable content creation and consumption with its hardware and software. Let others make the actual content. Apple should be careful not to lose focus. That was its near-downfall last time, and this time there is no Steve to save them.
    Remember that time when Steve Jobs was in exile from Apple, and he headed up NeXT computers, and then also bought into the developing Pixar animation company?
    Steve has passed.
  • Reply 15 of 48
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 4,996member
    ireland said:
    asdasd said:
    I am a bit uncomfortable with the "consistent with our brand" philosophy because Apple can be a bit too sanctimonious and censorious. I welcome that in the App Store but not for TV, as I am an adult.

    In a world with lots of fairly good but somewhat disturbing content ( from westworld, to black mirror, to the Nordic Noir and much more) competing with the HallMark channel isn't going to be a winner.  
    No one really knows what content they’ll buy or not. 
    We have a fair idea they are going after the "family values" section of the market

    http://variety.com/2018/tv/news/bryan-fuller-amazing-stories-apple-1202690957/
  • Reply 16 of 48
    wlymwlym Posts: 50member
    If "Planet of the Apps" (with that charlatan Paltrow) is any indication of Apple's taste in content, my Netflix membership isn't in any danger.
  • Reply 17 of 48
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 2,715member
    "We are very interested in the content business. We will be playing in a way that is consistent with our brand," 

    In 2015 Eddy Cue said this:

    http://money.cnn.com/2015/11/06/media/apple-tv-future-eddy-cue-interview/index.html
    I also asked Cue if he felt that Apple TV needs exclusive programming to differentiate from competing devices like Google Chromecast and Roku. 

    "We don't try to do things that are exclusive," he answered. "What we try to do is build technologies that let developers do things that they can't do anywhere else."

    Obviously Apple management changed their opinion on original content in the past year or two. I’d love Cook or Cue to explain Apple’s motivations for getting into original programming. If it’s just hardware sales are slowing so Apple needs more ways to monetize the existing customer base, that isn’t very compelling outside of Wall Street. I’d want to know does Apple management think the current landscape of TV programming is bad and they’re going to offer something better? What’s going to make Apple’s original content stand out from what Netflix, Amazon, HBO, etc. currently offer? And stand out enough that people will be willing to spend $10/mo on it. 

  • Reply 18 of 48
    tjwolftjwolf Posts: 196member
    This may be a dumb question, but how does Apple deliver its content en masse?  My 3rd-gen Apple TVs have a "Movies" icon and that top-bar (of highlighted movies) that are owned by Apple, but that's about it - I don't see a "TV" option as exists on iPhone.  I know where to go for Netflix or Amazon shows, but for Apple's shows...?  Perhaps "TV" is only available on the recent crop of Apple's streamers?
  • Reply 19 of 48
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,505administrator
    tjwolf said:
    This may be a dumb question, but how does Apple deliver its content en masse?  My 3rd-gen Apple TVs have a "Movies" icon and that top-bar (of highlighted movies) that are owned by Apple, but that's about it - I don't see a "TV" option as exists on iPhone.  I know where to go for Netflix or Amazon shows, but for Apple's shows...?  Perhaps "TV" is only available on the recent crop of Apple's streamers?
    It is on the fourth generation and Apple TV 4K -- and on newer iOS devices, as you've noted.
    tjwolffastasleeplolliver
  • Reply 20 of 48
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,983member
    The vast improvements to every aspect of Apple maps since it launched has been stunning.
    lepton said:
    I don't know, this content creation business is not what Apple does. What they do is enable content creation and consumption with its hardware and software. Let others make the actual content. Apple should be careful not to lose focus. That was its near-downfall last time, and this time there is no Steve to save them.
    These "there is no Steve Jobs to save them this time" concern-trolling posts are getting so fucking tired. We've been hearing them since Steve's death. There is ZERO comparison between the Apple of today and the Apple that needed saving from SJ, stop pretending there's parallels every time Apple does something you think you don't want them to do. It's obvious that the leaders at Apple understand and cherish SJ's philosophies. There's nothing wrong with Apple getting into the content game to make their ecosystem even stickier and more valuable. Doesn't mean that will take focus away from their hardware/software. On topic, I remember when so many here mocked Apple Music when it was 1st launched and claimed it had "no chance" against Spotify. Same with Beats purchase. Such short-sightedness.
    edited May 15 StrangeDaystmayfastasleeplolliverwatto_cobra
Sign In or Register to comment.