It sounds absurd to call the world’s biggest tech company an underdog, but that’s the odd position Apple is in regarding the streaming wars.
Three years after its launch, Apple TV+ still lags far behind its main competitors in terms of global subscriber numbers. The most recent information puts the number at 75 million. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Only about 25 million of those are actual paying customers; The rest access the service for free through various promotions. For example, if you buy a new Apple device, you automatically get Apple TV+ for three months free of charge (it used to be one year).
Disney has 235 million paid subscribers, overtaking Netflix (223 million) and Amazon Prime Video (200 million). But here, too, the figures paint a misleading picture.
That 235 million includes not only Disney+, but also the company’s two other streaming services, Hulu and ESPN+, neither of which is available outside the US. Take them out of the equation and the number for Disney+ is 165 million.
On paper, the poor Apple TV+ — that’s a figurative “poor,” not a literal one — is also being trampled on by the new(ish) kid on streaming block Paramount+, which has 48 million subscribers. On the other hand, that number doesn’t tell us how many of them get Paramount+ as a free add-on to another service.
For example, if you pay for Sky Cinema, Paramount+ is part of the package. If you are a Sky basic customer, you will have to pay the regular subscription fee.
I apologize if your eyelids droop. There are few things more boring than being bombarded with numbers.
The reality is that most of us don’t give a damn how many subscribers streamers have, or which of them wins the battle for consumers’ hearts, minds, and wallets.
The only important thing is what is always important when it comes to television: the quality. If you had asked me a few years ago which streamer scored best in terms of quality, the answer would certainly not have been Apple TV+.
Its content was poor at first. The supposed flagship series the morning show, assembled at enormous expense (you don’t lure Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carell onto the same set by laying a peanut trail), turned out to be a lumbering, leaky vessel, its funnels emitting a distinct Vanity Project odor.
To be honest, if I didn’t need Apple TV+ for my job, I most likely wouldn’t have subscribed after my free year ended. Two things happened to turn the tide of the young streamer: Covid-19 and Teddy Lasso.
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The pandemic hit, shutting down television and film production worldwide and forcing Apple to buy in content while work on its own projects stalled.
Starring Jason Sudeikis as an American college football coach turned manager of an English football club, the gentle fish-out-of-water comedy became a surprise lockdown hit and the streamer’s defining streak.
Fast forward a few years and the streaming landscape has changed dramatically. The overpriced Netflix has lost its way. His exhausting obsession with garish true-crime documentaries and bloated fantasy/horror series aimed at binge-watching teenagers — who aren’t typically the ones in the household paying the monthly subscription — drives away customers who sign up for the service have kind of adult quality television that made it in its early years.
Amazon Prime Video is better, but it’s still obsessed with subscriber counts, algorithms, and week-one numbers.
Apple TV+ will never be as big as these two, or like Disney+, which boasts a massive content library that none of the other streamers can match. It almost feels like a boutique streamer in comparison.
But what she lacks in quantity, she makes up for in judgment. series like Slow horses, black bird (my two personal favorites from 2022), For All Mankind, Bad Sisters, Severance, Five Days at Memorial, Shining Girls, Foundation and pachinko don’t feel like they were created to serve a demographic.
If you want quantity, the other streamers won’t disappoint. But there is only one who currently focuses on quality.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/tv-news/streaming-wars-apple-tv-biting-above-its-weight-with-top-quality-shows-42207796.html Streaming wars: Apple TV+ beats its weight with top-quality shows