Apple finally seems to be caving to the Netflix model and reportedly plans to license older content to help build out its meager lineup of mostly okay originals.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Apple is working on padding out its remarkably thin content lineup of originals with older TV series and movies—something virtually every other major streaming service has been doing for, you know, pretty much forever. Apple TV+ currently offers over two dozen originals series and movies on its platform, but its service simply does not measure up to its primary rivals like HBO, Hulu, and Netflix—no matter how much Apple originally insisted it wanted to be something different.
Apple’s little experiment for whether it could make an originals-only, relatively cheap but very thin service work is probably best summed up by looking at the numbers. Bloomberg reported Apple as having around 10 million subscriptions as of February but cited sources as saying that roughly half of those users actively use the service. Disney+, by comparison, has managed to secure more than 50 million subscriptions in about the same amount of time since it’s launch. Netflix has grabbed roughly 16 million new subscriptions globally in the last couple of months alone.
When you consider that Apple made its service free for a year to all new Apple device owners, 10 million subscriptions doesn’t seem like an especially impressive number. And while Disney+ is obviously a service targeted to families, which no doubt has helped it snag a significant number of users during an unprecedented global health crisis, it’s clear that an enormous and diverse catalog is something that most users are looking for in a streaming service.
One of Apple’s biggest problems was that it chose to market Apple TV+ like one of its devices, which is to say it was incredibly secretive and tight-lipped about the service prior to its launch. That approach doesn’t really translate to content, though, as people want to know what they can plan to watch. There’s a reason movie theaters aren’t a mystery grab bag where you take a seat and hope for the best. As a new service, Apple should have been doing more to show users why they should give a shit about its content when there are so many other options out there. Apple may be a king in devices, but it’s the new kid on the block when it comes to its TV and movies. And clearly, whatever Apple thought it was going to achieve with this approach didn’t pan out.
It’s not clear what kind of older content Apple plans to bring to its service, though Bloomberg reported that the company has been taking meetings with Hollywood studios about licensing. Given Apple has repeatedly said it wants to be the anti-Netflix—in the sense that it didn’t plan to throw a bunch of random shit against a wall to see what sticks—presumably whatever content it brings on won’t suck. But, then again, Apple’s originals have often been, you might say, a little lacking. Servant was fine.
If anyone can pull off saving a lackluster service that nobody cares about, it’s definitely Apple. It might just want to hurry it up, though. This space is crowded enough already.