Bloomberg: Apple to Buy Older Shows for TV+ in Bid to Challenge Netflix
Apple is purchasing older movies and shows for its TV+ streaming service in a bid to build a back catalog of content that puts it in a better position to rival the huge libraries available on Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, reports Bloomberg.
The company’s video-programming executives have taken pitches from Hollywood studios about licensing older content for TV+ and have bought some shows and movies, according to people familiar with the matter.
Apple reportedly plans to keep its television streaming service focused on original shows, and hasn't bought any huge franchises or blockbusters for its back catalog, according to sources cited in the report. Nevertheless, it's a statement of intent from Apple and an acknowledgement that successful streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ tend to have a mix of old and new shows to keep audiences coming back.
Netflix for example has thousands of titles that viewers can choose from, while Apple TV+ currently has fewer than 30 original movies and shows in its catalog. As the report notes, however, at $4.99 per month, Apple TV+ costs half the price of a standard Netflix subscription.
Another advantage Apple TV+ has over its rivals is that it's free for a year for anyone who buys an Apple device, and students who have a student subscription to Apple Music for $4.99 per month can also get access to Apple TV+ at no additional charge, so the company can expose viewers to its television service before they even sign up.
Apple has so far avoided buying rights to old shows, and has instead looked to host individual services through its TV app in the form of Apple TV Channels, which include the likes of HBO, Starz, SHOWTIME, and EPIX. However, according to Bloomberg's sources, this approach has yielded mixed results.
Though about 10 million people had signed up for TV+ by February, only about half that number actively used the service, according to the people familiar with the matter.
Compare that to Disney+, which signed up over 10 million users on the day it launched in the U.S. and has since attracted over 50 million subscribers. Netflix meanwhile has 182.8 million subscribers globally, making it one of the world's largest entertainment services, and the company added nearly 16 million customers in the first quarter of this year.
Today's news suggests something of a turnaround for the company's plans for Apple TV+. During Apple's February shareholder meeting, CEO Tim Cook was asked why Apple didn't make an effort to get the rights to the upcoming Friends reunion show that will be airing on HBO Max.
Cook said that recycled content is "not what Apple TV+ is about." Apple TV+ is "about original programming," he said. "It doesn't feel right for Apple to just go out and take a rerun."