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Apple TV+ is Woefully Short on Streaming Customers

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Apple has spent billions to enter the streaming market, but so far it's struggling to find a core audience.

The world's most valuable company splashes up to $15 million on a single episode for its Apple TV+ service, but new figures suggest viewers are still tuned out. It was revealed this weekend that the platform had less than 20 million Stateside subscribers in July, a paltry figure that's miles behind rivals Netflix and Disney+.

In Need of Some Apple Juice

Apple launched its streaming service in November 2019 in typical over-the-top fashion. Big guns Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and Jason Momoa were trotted out in a sleek stage production to hail the Hollywood arrival of a Silicon Valley superstar.

In the two years since, Apple TV+ has rolled out a series of big-budget productions brimming with showbiz royalty — Aniston and Reese Witherspoon vehicle The Morning Show, horror auteur M. Night Shyamalan's creepy Servant, and the hit soccer comedy Ted Lasso. Emmys followed, but subscribers... not so much:

  • Apple revealed it had less than 20 million subscribers in the US and Canada via a previously unreported July disclosure to the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).
  • That's dwarfed by streaming leader Netflix, which reported 209 million subscribers in the second quarter. Disney+, which launched the same month as Apple+, already has 116 million subscribers.

The iPhone peddler reportedly blew $6 billion launching its streaming service, though its newcomer status means it still has fewer original shows than some rivals, while Covid has bottlenecked productions. It can, however, easily weather some growing pains: the company made $21.7 billion in profit on $81.43 billion in revenue in its third quarter of 2021.

Crunch Time Coming: Under the current agreement between Hollywood production companies and the IATSE, Apple is allowed to pay its crew members less money if the tech titan reports under 20 million subscribers. But the union is preparing for a strike, and streaming pay rates could be one issue it tries to pry open.

Netflix Also Losing Stream?: Glacial subscriber expansion this year has kept Netflix shares to 9.6% growth, far behind the S&P 500's 19%. But it did make a huge investment in nothing — the show about nothing, that is. Seinfeld, which Netflix paid over $500 million for the rights to, will join its roster on October 1.


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