Could We Still See an Apple Services Bundle This Year?

Apple Music Apple TV Apple Arcade Apple New Super Bundle Credit: Apple
Text Size
- +

Toggle Dark Mode

Ever since Apple introduced a whole lineup of new services last year many customers have been wishing for a way to bundle one or more of these services like Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and Apple News+ into one lower monthly subscription fee.

In fact, many expected that would be in the cards even before Apple announced its new services, but sadly it never came to pass, and other than remaining within the warm embrace of the Apple ecosystem, there’s no direct benefit for most users in subscribing to more than one Apple service, so an Apple TV+ user could just as easily use Spotify for their playlists instead of Apple Music; there aren’t even any integrations between services that would help to encourage users to stay in the Apple ecosystem.

While this likely helps Apple avoid more antitrust allegations, it’s making many of the company’s services seem like silos, and any tie-ins that the company is considering appear to be more on the front-end production side than offering tight integration between the apps. By contrast, thanks to a partnership with Tidal, media streaming company Plex now provides a list of music tracks on its pages for popular TV shows and movies, letting users quickly access those songs — as long as they have a Tidal subscription, of course.

Late last year, however, we heard rumours that Apple was in the very least looking for ways to offer one or more of its services in a single subscription, but other than a limited-time student promotion, the company hasn’t yet made any obvious moves in that direction.

The biggest obstacle to this, of course, is the music industry, which would likely need to be willing to give up a portion of the revenue that it receives from Apple Music to let Apple effectively reduce the price of the service in a bundle. Since these two services seem to have the most natural synergy, Apple was reportedly in talks with the record labels about doing so last year, but now it appears like these talks haven’t gone anywhere.

Apple Renews Music Agreements

A new report from the Financial Times reveals that Apple has recently renewed its multi-year deals with the major record labels to keep their content on Apple Music, but in the midst of these new agreements, there appears to be no room for an Apple TV+ bundle.

Specifically, Apple has sealed “multiyear licensing deals” with Universal Music, Sony Music, and Warner Music, according to people who are familiar with the matter, however the same sources note that the contracts do not “include an economic agreement to bundle Apple Music with the company’s television service.”

As an aside, it’s also interesting to note that Apple’s much more friendly relationship with music publishers seems to have smoothed over these negotiations. Apple’s chief rival, Spotify, has been struggling for almost a year now to come to an agreement with at least two of the big labels, with the previous contract being extended on a month-by-month basis while they continue their “high-stakes discussions.”

What This Means for a Super Bundle

Technically speaking, this doesn’t rule out Apple’s ability to bundle its services, as the agreements with the music labels can’t prevent Apple from doing that. What these new contracts do represent, however, is that the record companies haven’t made any financial concessions that would allow Apple to pay lower royalty rates as part of a bundle.

This means that if Apple wanted to sell a subscription bundle that includes Apple Music, it would basically have to eat the costs of doing so from the profits of its own services. Such a move wouldn’t be entirely unprecedented, though — the Apple Music and Apple TV+ Student Bundle did exactly that, and in fact Apple even positioned it as such, telling Apple Music student subscribers that they were getting “Apple TV+ included at no extra charge.”

Since Apple owns all of the content rights for the shows on Apple TV+ and the games on Apple Arcade, this does give the company considerably more freedom to set the rates for these services. For example, if Apple wanted bundle Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade, it wouldn’t need to worry about the economic arrangements with third-party publishers. Only Apple Music and Apple News+ actually require any kind of per-subscriber payouts to third-parties, however with Apple News+ struggling to gain traction, Apple might have an easier sell in convincing news and magazine publishers to agree to a bundle, not to mention that by all reports Apple gets a much bigger cut on News+ subscriptions than it does from Apple Music.

So it still remains unclear whether we’ll see an Apple Digital Super Bundle sometime this year, although if Apple is considering any such thing, it’s most likely going to come in the fall when free one-year trials of Apple TV+ start running out.

Social Sharing