Analysts are widely expecting Apple TV+ to quickly skyrocket to a hundred million subscribers in the first year of its service — a number that took rivals like Netflix almost a decade to reach.
As reported by CNBC, Barclays analysts published a research note last week estimating that Apple’s new streaming service could easily reach over a 100 million subscribers in its first year, although it concedes that many of these will come from users who gain the free one-year trial from purchasing a new eligible Apple device.
Apple is already offering a free year of Apple TV to anybody who purchased a new iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, or even just an iPod touch any time after Sept. 10th, and while Apple says the offer is only available for a limited time, it hasn’t yet said exactly how “limited” that time is. This means that even those receiving a new Apple device under the Christmas tree this year will most likely still be eligible to claim their free year of Apple TV+, and they’ll even have up to three months after that to do so.
With Apple expected to sell up to 75 million units of the new iPhone 11 models alone by the end of 2019, not to mention purchases of new iPads, Macs, Apple TV set-top boxes, and older iPhone models, its easy to see where these numbers are coming from. In fact the numbers from the Barclays analysts are based on the prediction that Apple will sell 222 million hardware devices over the next twelve months, and that excludes sales to China and additional devices being purchased in the same houeshold.
However, those purchasing new Apple devices will still have to specifically sign up for Apple TV+ — they’re not going to be automatically counted as subscribers — but with Apple TV+ being bundled for free, it’s fair to say that a good number of those will at least be curious enough to check the service out. In fact, Barclays is being conservative in estimating that only 50 percent of those buying a new device will actually accept the service. We actually think the number will be much higher.
Of course, some will argue that these aren’t “real” numbers, since users won’t necessarily stay on once they have to start paying for the service, but this may not matter to Apple and its content partners, at least not initially, since their primary goal right now is to get as many eyeballs on their shows as possible. While the bottom line will matter eventually, Apple is definitely thinking long-term here, and during this critical first year it will be more important to get a large viewer base than worrying about how much money is coming in from subscribers.
Plus, it seems that Barclays numbers are only factoring in trial activations, where it concedes that Apple is going to see subscribers decline as users opt out. However, that will also be offset by new activations, and the fact that there will still be a lot of existing users out there who are happy to pay the $4.99/month for the content that Apple is producing — and that’s coming from the installed base of over a billion devices.
Apple is Still Thinking Different
Naturally, what Apple is really hoping is that once users get a taste of Apple TV+ for that first year, they’ll happily continue paying for it just to keep watching shows that will have become their favourites.
Apple has already spent more on shows like The Morning Show and See than most other content providers can dream of, and has in fact brought stars like Jennifer Aniston back to television and made them the highest-paid TV stars in Hollywood.
More importantly, however, it’s already planning for additional seasons of its shows. The Morning Show was already picked up for two seasons to begin with, and Apple has reportedly just renewed For All Mankind for a second.
Even for Apple’s premiere shows, the first year is clearly just going to be a teaser to whet people’s appetites for more. According to a new report in WIRED, Ronald D. Moore, the force behind For All Mankind has already mapped out seven seasons of his show in an overwhelming amount of detail, and the first season is only going to cover the first few years of his reimagined history, with events that would have transpired from 1969 to 1974, so there will be a lot more to tell, and with Moore’s reputation — and if the trailers we’ve seen are any indication — people are going to want to keep watching.
We’re not doing demographic programming. No one here is sitting around saying we need to find the next show for males 18 to 34, or the next show for females older than 32. We’re defining our programming by quality.Zack Van Amburg, Head of Apple Worldwide Video Programming
This epitomizes what Apple is going for with Apple TV+ — not churning out a collection of commoditized TV shows like most other streaming services have been doing, but trying to tell stories that have a purpose, and not being afraid to spend vast amount of money on a few serious, quality projects.