While Netflix and Disney Plus enjoyed significant jumps in popularity due to the coronavirus pandemic, Apple’s subscription-video-on-demand (SVOD) platform has not been as successful. Bloomberg reports the service only has 10 million subscribers, and only 5 million are active users.
However, the Big Tech firm plans to optimize its SVOD by bringing legacy TV shows and movies as well as new podcast content to the service.
Why Apple TV+ Struggled At Launch
When Apple launched its TV+ service, it sought to lure in consumers with a range of star-studded content and a low price. For $4.99 a month, users could watch new shows starring Steve Carell and Jason Momoa and produced by Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan. The corporation even incentivized the SVOD sign-ups by giving iPhone and Mac buyers a one-year subscription for free.
Despite Apple’s unparalleled brand strength, the service did not become a hit out of the gate.
Its expensive marquee programming received mixed-to-negative reviews and prompted a behind-the-scenes shakeup. In addition, the platform’s lack of classic content made it less appealing than Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus. With a lack of beloved old shows like “The Office,” “Friends,” and “Seinfeld,” the service felt less than essential.
Even COVID-19 could not make Apple TV+ a platform with mass appeal. As millions of people transitioned to working from home, HBO Now saw its membership surge by 90 percent, and Netflix experienced a 47 percent rise in sign-ups. Simultaneously, the iPhone maker’s SVOD had only a 10 percent bump in new subscribers.
Following tradition, Apple responded to a disappointing product launch by shaking things up with a new idea.
Old TV Shows and Movies, New Podcasts
Bloomberg notes Apple is in the process of acquiring the streaming rights for classic movies and TV shows. The publication did not reference any specific content, but the firm has reportedly expressed interest in buying MGM’s catalog. As the corporation exited Q1 with $40 billion in cash on hand, it could easily afford to become the exclusive streaming home of the James Bond series and “Stargate SG-1.”
The AirPods manufacturer is also looking to increase its podcast holdings.
The company is reportedly looking to produce a raft of original non-music audio content and plans to hire an executive to lead the initiative. The firm wants to acquire some programs to increase its footprint within the increasingly competitive podcast space, but it also intends to use the medium to drive users to TV+.
Apple’s podcast strategy is two-pronged; it wants to make audio spin-offs of existing TV+ shows and new programs it can turn into video content. While the prospect of supplementary “See” media is profoundly unappetizing, the firm’s adaptation idea is more appealing. After all, Amazon and IFC found great success turning popular podcasts into compelling television series.
While there is no guarantee the company’s unconventional promotional scheme will succeed, its boldness is refreshing. Moreover, field testing its new video ideas as podcasts is a much more cost-effective way of handling project development. If nothing else, launching “The Morning Show” as an audio drama would have prevented Apple from sinking $150 million into the blandest prestige drama in recent memory.