Apple TV+ reportedly had less than 20M subscribers in US and Canada as of July

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in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited September 24
A union representing TV and movie workers says Apple pays discounted rates to production crews because it has comparatively fewer subscribers than competing streaming services.

Apple TV Plus


A spokesman for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees told CNBC that Apple cited Apple TV+ subscriber numbers of less than 20 million people as of July 1. That statistic enables Apple to pay crews a lower rate than larger platforms like Netflix and Disney.

According to an existing contract, big-budget streaming productions can pay workers at a discounted rate if their combined U.S. and Canada subscriber numbers are under a threshold of 20 million people, the report said. A copy of the contract seen by CNBC reveals labor stipulations for streaming productions are less stringent than those maintained for traditional broadcast TV projects because profitability in the sector is "presently uncertain."

Apple does not appear to have provided IATSE with an exact subscriber number and the company has not publicly made that information available since Apple TV+ launched in late 2019. Estimates from Statista in May put worldwide figures at about 40 million at the end of 2020, with a majority of users taking advantage of Apple's free trial offer.

It was in July that Apple cut its trial period to three months, down from a full year gained through the purchase of an eligible device like iPhone. At the time, the 12-month offer had been on the table for some 20 months following multiple extensions.

Analysts rarely speculate on Apple TV+, but in June, J.P. Morgan said it expected the service to hit 100 million subscribers by 2025.

By comparison, Disney+, which launched at around the same time as Apple TV+, reached the 116 million subscriber mark in less than two years. Market leader Netflix boasts more than 200 million paying customers.

An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on subscriber statistics, but noted that it pays crew rates in line with major streaming companies, the report said.

IATSE is preparing to strike for better wages and working conditions. Ballots to authorize the action will go out to 150,000 members on Oct. 1, according to the report.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    Can’t compare Disney+ against Apple TV+ because Disney started with a MASSIVE following with Marvel and Pixar fans, not to mention the TONS (read as thousands of hours) of content over the last 59 years. Apple started with ZERO content but is making an honest go at it, look at Ted Lasso and the recognition it has received. Netflix and Amazon are each spending more than $15+ Billion dollars per year on content, so it’s a competitive market place but where Apple has dropped the ball is on Apple TV device, it needs to be focusing on gaming, along with content. 
    Graeme000
  • Reply 2 of 22
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,400member
    The story is probably (roughly) correct , but nonetheless gives a false impression. I'm almost certain that the estimate above is for PAID subscribers only (which might also be a hint to how Apple One is doing), since that is the basis of what the union rate is for Apple.

    There are still millions with their free trial going on, either having bought Apple gear and getting a free year before the longer offer was withdrawn, or are on the three-month free trial having bought some Apple stuff since. I gave up a month of the free trial because I went onto the Apple One bundle.

    So it shouldn't give anyone the impression that there are only 20M people watching Apple TV+, but as a service with almost 100 percent original shows, TV+ is undeniably a harder "sell" than other streamings that have big catalogs of "comfort food" old or at least familiar TV titles. It's never EVER going to beat Disney+, Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Max, or Hulu. It's also not trying to beat them.

    What it is trying to do is offer high-quality original shows for a very reasonable price. On that, at least, I feel like it has succeeded and is continuing to build a fuller catalog. It's probably on par with less-expensive, more-niche services like Britbox, AMC. DAZN, et al.
    pscooter63MacProwilliamlondonminicoffee
  • Reply 3 of 22
    I’m surprised the Apple One bundles haven’t boosted the numbers more.  The subscriber count will go up now that T-Mobile is giving Apple TV+ with certain cell plans.  
  • Reply 4 of 22
    Ted Lasso was better on season 1. Let’s see how morning show goes.
    entropys
  • Reply 5 of 22
    It could be accurate since we don’t know how Apple or the unions count the subscriber numbers and if they do or do not count the free trials or the subsidized subscriptions paid by the carriers. 

    What is sad is that some of the shows are good and the crews aren’t getting paid the same as a piece of crap show on Hulu or Netflix.  
  • Reply 6 of 22
    Apple is one of the richest companies on the planet.

    Why on earth would the pay discounted rates just because they are allowed to?

    Greedy bastards.
    edited September 25 gatorguywilliamlondon
  • Reply 7 of 22
    Apple should branch out it’s shows. Not everything should be brooding or politically correct satire. It gets old quick. 

    With Netflix, Hulu, and even Amazon prime, you get much more. 

    Apple TV at this point is unfortunately like Disney plus lite. That then went on a diet. That then threw up the little food it ate. 

    See is pretty meh. Foundation is pretty awesome. The morning show is annoying and Tesla’s so is ok but not great. 

    And outside of that… it’s pretty bleak. Apple could have really built something. They still can. But they have to get serious. At the minimum, they need to buy one of the competitors. 
  • Reply 8 of 22
    netling said:
    Can’t compare Disney+ against Apple TV+ because Disney started with a MASSIVE following with Marvel and Pixar fans, not to mention the TONS (read as thousands of hours) of content over the last 59 years. Apple started with ZERO content but is making an honest go at it, look at Ted Lasso and the recognition it has received. Netflix and Amazon are each spending more than $15+ Billion dollars per year on content, so it’s a competitive market place but where Apple has dropped the ball is on Apple TV device, it needs to be focusing on gaming, along with content. 
    While this is true, it’s really in Apple. They could have bought Marvel, DC, and whatever else. They should have. They just weren’t serious enough. Treading it like a hobby. Just like the Apple TV device itself. 

    When Apple created iTunes, they went after the entire industry and are the industry standard as a result. Should have treated Apple TV + the same way. 
    edited September 25 williamlondonanantksundaramh2p
  • Reply 9 of 22
    hucom2000 said:
    Apple is one of the richest companies on the planet.

    Why on earth would the pay discounted rates just because they are allowed to?

    Greedy bastards.
    Correction. They have the highest value based on stock prices. I their stock crashed tomorrow,  that value would evaporate. 
  • Reply 10 of 22
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,425member
    hucom2000 said:
    Apple is one of the richest companies on the planet.

    Why on earth would the pay discounted rates just because they are allowed to?

    Greedy bastards.
    To be fair, no one claimed Apple was paying discounted rates, but if they can make AppleTV+'s losses smaller, I'm sure they'd take the opportunity to do so.
  • Reply 11 of 22
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,425member
    chasm said:
    The story is probably (roughly) correct , but nonetheless gives a false impression. I'm almost certain that the estimate above is for PAID subscribers only (which might also be a hint to how Apple One is doing), since that is the basis of what the union rate is for Apple.

    20M subscribers isn't that great, especially since at least some of those will be due to Apple One, myself included at one point. I cancelled after a month because it wasn't worth me forking out for AppleTV+ in any of the bundles when I didn't want it. In the individual or family bundle, I'd swap AppleTV+ for any of the other services. But the bundles are set up how they are to inflate AppleTV+ numbers.
  • Reply 12 of 22
    Apple always plays the long game. Apple TV+ is growing in content and will do so for the foreseeable future. Three, four, five years from now no one is going to care that it mainly offers Apple-generated content on account of there is going to be so much of it that it will hardly matter that a bunch of legacy titles no one really cares about is not in the mix. This is especially the case considering Apple’s streaming service will likely be the least expensive of the options. Netflix, here in Canada, is already approaching the $20-a-month mark for its top tier and the other services like Amazon Prime and DisneyPlus will no doubt be jacking up their prices at the earliest possible point. Apple, on the other hand, will likely keep its price low and focus on original content at that lower price point. You pay for Apple content and not a lot of useless filler. Really, why would anyone who was interested in that Apple content want to have to pay extra for legacy content of little or no value. That Apple is offering its original content at a reasonable price is a good thing. As long as the price doesn’t spike unreasonably, it’s a model that makes sense. Of course, if you don’t like the content Apple is producing, obviously there is no point in paying anything at all. As for producing content that everyone will like, good luck with that. Obviously never going to happen. What you want is to attract enough subscribers to be viable. I like Apple TV+’s chances better as a lower-cost add-on than an alternative to Netflix and the gang. In Canada it’s $59 roughly for a year of the service. At that price point, no voluminous library of legacy titles is fine by me. Let me put it this way, if Netflix, or Amazon Prime or, for that matter, Disney Plus, offered trimmed-down versions of their services featuring only original content - for a lot less money of course - I’d be all over it. Alas, such options simply don’t exist. So Netflix I carry for a month or two each year to check out some original content and Prime, right now, I have because in Canada the price for Prime is still rather reasonable - roughly $79 for a year - and there is a decent amount of appealing original content. 
  • Reply 13 of 22
    Meanwhile, to add to the woes, The F is getting panned by critics. Embarrassingly panned. 
  • Reply 14 of 22
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,346member
    hucom2000 said:
    Apple is one of the richest companies on the planet.

    Why on earth would the pay discounted rates just because they are allowed to?

    Greedy bastards.
    Apple, Inc. did not become the richest company on the planet because of AppleTV+. Apple, Inc could fold AppleTV+ and still be the richest company on the planet. In fact, they might become even richer because at this stage, we don't know if AppleTV+ is even profitable for Apple, Inc.  This would not be in the best interest of the IATSE union. Which is why they offer discounted rates to smaller streaming services that might otherwise fold, rather than to sustain massive losses for an extended period of time. AppleTV+ by comparison to other streaming services, is "small" not not very profitable (if at all). But that might change, if Apple, Inc is willing to put enough effort and money into it. Which would be in the best interest of the IATSE union. 

    This is not like the iTunes Music Store and iPods. Apple made very little money selling music in the iTunes Music Store. But they made a ton of money selling iPods. iPods became the number one MP3 player despite iPods being some of the most expensive MP3 players on the market. And that probably wouldn't be the case if it weren't for the iTunes Music Store. So far, I haven't heard of Apple TV's becoming the next iPod because of AppleTV+. Or that AppleTV+ is driving up sales of other Apple hardware.

    I don't know what socialistic planet you're living on. But here on Earth, for the most part, a rich person doing business with another business, like shopping at a Walmart, gets the same discount for the same product and service, that anyone one else shopping there gets. Walmart would not tell Jeff Bezo that the 50% off on BlueRay movies this weekend, does not apply to him and he must pay the regular price.  
    mike1danoxwilliamh
  • Reply 15 of 22
    After some free trials, it started charging $4.99/month. But the app is too confusing. Many of the offering requires additional payments. It is not worth the money for pain instead of enjoyment. 
  • Reply 16 of 22
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,580moderator
    CarmB said:
    Apple always plays the long game. Apple TV+ is growing in content and will do so for the foreseeable future. Three, four, five years from now no one is going to care that it mainly offers Apple-generated content on account of there is going to be so much of it that it will hardly matter that a bunch of legacy titles no one really cares about is not in the mix. 
    Making movies is a slow process, likewise with games that affects the Arcade service. Foundation was filmed over 19 months. Apple TV+ was launched March 2019 and they were casting in 2019.

    Having a lot of productions running in parallel will help fill out the library more quickly but everyone else is doing the same. Content volume is one part of it. Here's a list of Apple TV shows:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Apple_TV%2B_original_programming

    That's around 80 separate pieces of content to watch. According to this, Netflix had over 5,000 in 2018:

    https://www.businessinsider.com/netflix-movie-catalog-size-has-gone-down-since-2010-2018-2

    This site has a good comparison of the content volume and quality on different services:

    https://blog.reelgood.com/what-streaming-services-are-worth-it-comparing-price-quality-volume
    https://www.cordcuttersnews.com/amazon-prime-video-has-more-movies-than-netflix-hulu/

    The top ones Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have 150-200 TV shows rated 8/10 or above and 500-2000 movies rated 6/10 or above.

    If Apple aims to only produce good content and avoid low quality filler material and has 50 productions in parallel then they'd be able to get there in 3-5 years but they'd need a much higher proportion of quality new content than other services and so far they've been around the same. General rate seems to be around 10% for high quality content vs overall volume and only a percentage of content appeals to each subscriber.

    I'd just like to see a service that would offer all content that's available on DVD/Blu-Ray on a subscription:

    https://www.imdb.com/list/ls066095353/
    https://www.imdb.com/list/ls055592025/

    Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Daily Show, Game of Thrones, West Wing, Mash, Star Trek, Cheers, The Office, Friends, X-Files, South Park, Buffy, Lost, Columbo, Battlestar Galactica, ER, 24, Fawlty Towers, Sex and the City. Godfather, Shawshank Redemption, Citizen Kane, L.A Confidential, Goodfellas, Forrest Gump, Star Wars, James Bond, Indiana Jones, Rocky, Jaws, Matrix.

    These are older classics but there are thousands of new ones too:

    https://www.metacritic.com/browse/movies/score/metascore/year/filtered/itunes

    It doesn't matter if it costs much more than other services. The people who want it will pay for it, all these services are cheap, I'd even say too cheap. If Apple had an Apple Cinema premium service for $29/m with all iTunes content accessible but limited to say 10 movies per month and 30 TV shows plus Apple Originals, nobody could say they were lacking on content, they'd just be more expensive. It might not pull in 100-200m subscribers at that price but it would make it an essential service. I expect there must be restrictions on streaming things like Black Widow on Apple TV+. That has a purchase price of $20 and after purchase can be streamed:

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/black-widow-2021/id1576371183

    but if someone was paying $29/m, there should be a way to allow people to stream movies like this on a subscription without making individual purchases. Apple can test it with their own employees, they have 160k employees. Give them an account with access to 10 movies and 30 TV shows per month, let their families watch the content and see if it's worth $29/m. The service can offer topups if it's not enough.
    muthuk_vanalingamfastasleep
  • Reply 17 of 22
    No need to overthink this. Bottom line is, does the service at a given price point offer enough to justify the cost. It’s either yes or no. If yes, then I sign up and if no then not. I would imagine that quite a few consumers will not limit themselves to a single streaming service. I do think there will reach a point where most of us will not be signed up for all of them on account of the cost will be excessive and if the amount of content is such that the time to watch it all falls short, well why spend money on something you’re not going to use. 

    In other words, the services are not exactly in competition with each other and yet, to an extent, they are. By that I mean, it’s not a case of having to choose just one. If you are buying a smart phone, you are likely buying just one. But if you subscribe to a streaming service, you don’t necessarily limit yourself to just one. That said, for most of us there is a limit and if the price per service increases significantly, that limit will become more of a factor. I’m unhappy with the direction that Netflix has gone, especially that it charges a premium for delivering 4K and HDR. Fortunately, all the other services have not gone there. As well, from a launch in Canada at $7.99 a month to now charging $18.99 a month for the top tier is flat out greed. No wonder subscription numbers are trending in the wrong direction. 

    For Apple to succeed, it needs the model to prevail accommodating consumers who sign up to multiple streaming services. It’s not us or them. It’s add us to the mix. For that, you don’t need the most content just enough appealing content to justify the price to enough subscribers to have a viable service. We’re not in a scenario where phone specs are compared to decide which phone to buy. Most consumers are not going to add up the titles with one service and compare that number to another, choosing the one with the most. A consumer will consider what is on offer and decide if for the price it’s worth adding to the mix. Each service will stand or fall on its own merits. Of course, if the cost per service skyrockets industry wide, it changes the narrative. As a consumer, my hope is that this will not happen. Personally, since you don’t have to carry most of the services year-round, I will not, if the cost gets out of hand. I’ve already gone there with Netflix which means the amount of money these services can collectively extract from us is not limitless. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 18 of 22
    danoxdanox Posts: 636member
    Apple should branch out it’s shows. Not everything should be brooding or politically correct satire. It gets old quick. 

    With Netflix, Hulu, and even Amazon prime, you get much more. 

    Apple TV at this point is unfortunately like Disney plus lite. That then went on a diet. That then threw up the little food it ate. 

    See is pretty meh. Foundation is pretty awesome. The morning show is annoying and Tesla’s so is ok but not great. 

    And outside of that… it’s pretty bleak. Apple could have really built something. They still can. But they have to get serious. At the minimum, they need to buy one of the competitors. 

    The only obvious thing Apple should do is create a YouTube clone without the Google crap, however Google paying 15 billion per year iOS access prevents that…. 
  • Reply 19 of 22
    danoxdanox Posts: 636member
    netling said:
    Can’t compare Disney+ against Apple TV+ because Disney started with a MASSIVE following with Marvel and Pixar fans, not to mention the TONS (read as thousands of hours) of content over the last 59 years. Apple started with ZERO content but is making an honest go at it, look at Ted Lasso and the recognition it has received. Netflix and Amazon are each spending more than $15+ Billion dollars per year on content, so it’s a competitive market place but where Apple has dropped the ball is on Apple TV device, it needs to be focusing on gaming, along with content. 
    While this is true, it’s really in Apple. They could have bought Marvel, DC, and whatever else. They should have. They just weren’t serious enough. Treading it like a hobby. Just like the Apple TV device itself. 

    When Apple created iTunes, they went after the entire industry and are the industry standard as a result. Should have treated Apple TV + the same way. 

    Buying Marvel, or having better gaming on the Mac did not happen because, Steve Jobs seemed to have a mental block when it came to hard-core computer games, comic books, or science fiction, Apple despite Foundation seems to have missed the creative possibilities of the work of IDW, Dark Horse or some of the work featured in some the anthology series, the best stories are outside Hollywood and always has been. If Apple is going to waste time and money in content there are so many possibilities outside the beltway. It’s not to late.

    And Pixar (THE BIGGEST NATURAL FIT) was off limits to Apple because of Jobs being CEO of Apple…..
  • Reply 20 of 22
    Apple should branch out it’s shows. Not everything should be brooding or politically correct satire. It gets old quick. 

    With Netflix, Hulu, and even Amazon prime, you get much more. 

    Apple TV at this point is unfortunately like Disney plus lite. That then went on a diet. That then threw up the little food it ate. 

    See is pretty meh. Foundation is pretty awesome. The morning show is annoying and Tesla’s so is ok but not great. 

    And outside of that… it’s pretty bleak. Apple could have really built something. They still can. But they have to get serious. At the minimum, they need to buy one of the competitors. 
    If you think they need to branch out given how small their catalogue is at this point, you haven't been watching much of it. It's already quite diverse, and good at that.
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