Pasadena, Calif. — At the just-wrapped Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter Press Tour, Apple billed its new Apple TV+ streaming service as the destination for "creative storytellers."
But can the biggest name in consumer technology get anyone to watch anything these top creative storytellers produce?
Launched on Nov. 1, 2019, Apple TV+ has promised the end user a potpourri of exclusive original shows, movies and documentaries. Drama The Morning Show, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell was its signature entry. Despite the mixed reviews, it did manage to snag three Golden Globe Award nominations (including Best Television Series – Drama) and a Screen Actors Guild award for Jennifer Aniston for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, which for a new streaming service is an impressive feat.
The Morning Show, however, was only one of eight shows (seven scripted and one non-scripted) available at Apple TV+’s inception. Nothing else has been all that buzzworthy. Only about 5% of U.S. streaming homes sampled Apple TV+ in the latter six weeks in fourth quarter 2019 it was available, according to a poll conducted by market research firm HarrisX for equity research boutique MoffettNathanson. And there was an immediate obstacle: Disney+, which just 11 days after the introduction of Apple TV+ debuted with an endless well of content from Disney films, Disney animation, Disney Channel Originals, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, and National Geographic for $6.99 per month.
This same poll by HarrisX found that 23% of the overall market used Disney+ in December.
Even at a lower monthly cost, Apple TV+ at $4.99 may not be able to adequately compete in the "streaming wars" era unless it significantly beefs up its original programming slate. Peacock, from NBCUniversal, and HBO Max, from WarnerMedia are launching in the spring, and both have extensive libraries to rely on.
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Marc Berman is editor-in-chief for media-centric The Programming Insider (programminginsider.com), which pioneered the email newsletter format at its inception in 1999. Marc has written for a wide range of publications including Broadcasting + Cable, Next TV, Forbes, Newspro, Campaign US, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. Known as “Mr. Television” at Mediaweek (now Adweek), Marc has appeared on camera on Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Inside Edition and CNN and MSNBC, among other series and outlets. He is a member of The Television Critics Association and The Broadcast Journalists Television Association. And Marc put his TV historian hat on as author of desk calendar Today in TV History.