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Apple TV+: ‘Greyhound’ a ‘Summer Blockbuster,’ But SVOD Still Struggling with Production Shutdown

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

Apple TV Plus claims to have scored its first major audience hit in July, as well as some Emmy love, but the struggling SVOD platform remains dogged by pandemic-fueled production studio shutdowns. 

“Production has been affected for Apple TV Plus, as I think it has for most people,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook, speaking to investment analysts last week during Apple’s fiscal third quarter earnings call. “We are working to get restarted. I don't have a precise date yet when we will get it restarted, but there will be some impact because we shut down in the March time frame and are yet to really restart in a significant way particularly for those that are shut in the L.A. area given the current status of the virus and those.”

Also read: Production Panic: Can the Major SVOD Services Keep Up with Ravenous Audience Demand?

The production delays are particularly meaningful for Apple TV Plus, which launched last November with an almost exclusive focus on original shows. As of July, eight months after launch, Apple TV Plus had 26 original shows and movies, distributed in 100 countries worldwide. There is little library content to fall back on. 

Early last month, media analyst Michael Nathanson wrote that Apple should “consider its options” in regard to its new SVOD service, considering recent Harris X data showing that penetration of the service actually went down to 7% (from 8%) during a heavy pandemic viewing period during which infiltration of other major streaming services is going up, up, up. 

Most of Apple TV Plus's user base at this point consists of 

Also read: Apple TV Plus Should ‘Reconsider’ its Options: MoffettNathanson

But since then, Apple TV Plus has enjoyed some traction: First, it debuted World War II movie Greyhound, written and starring Tom Hanks, which Cook described as a “summer blockbuster.”

Of course, this viewing information came directly from Apple. But it also said that 30% of the viewers were new to the service.

Then came last week’s Emmy Award nominations, during which Apple TV Plus took 18 nominations, just behind media tech darling Disney Plus. 

In any event, don’t look for Apple to consider the the option of dumping its SVOD service just yet. Cook also revealed that the tech giant’s services operation, for which Apple TV Plus is a component, has already achieved the goal of doubling Apple’s 2016 service’s revenue, and the fiscal year isn’t even over.