Apple TV+ Expected to Reach 36 Million Subscribers By 2026, Far Short of Rivals
Apple's TV+ digital streaming service is expected to have a total of 36 million subscribers by the end of 2026, according to research firm Digital TV Research (via The Hollywood Reporter).
According to the research, Disney's wildly successful streaming service will overtake Netflix and reach 284.2 million subscribers by 2026. Netflix by comparison is expected to hit 270.7 million subscribers by that time. Amazon Prime Video is expected to grow to 243.4 million users.
Apple has never provided details on Apple TV+ subscriber numbers in the two years since its digital streaming service began, so it's unclear how many new subscribers it would need to attract to reach 36 million over the next five years, but the research highlights Apple's continuing lack of market share compared to other streaming services.
Apple is still giving people who buy a new device a free year of service, in the hope that customers will opt to pay the $5 a month fee to continue to have access to Apple's content. Approximately half of Apple TV+ subscribers are now believed to be paying for the service, with the other half still using a free trial period.
Meanwhile, Apple is working hard to bolster its selection of original movies and TV shows. For example, Apple has reportedly been telling studio executives that it is aiming to do more than 10 to 12 original movies per year for Apple TV+. Apple has a limited number of high profile films already, including "Palmer," "Cherry," and "Greyhound," and sees it as a way to draw more people into Apple TV+.
Apple also intends to increase the amount of regular new content on Apple TV+ in 2022, with at least one new item added per week, which is more than double the pace of new content in 2021. Still, it will be several years yet before Apple TV+ has a catalog that can compete with other streaming services.
Apple reportedly abandoned its plans for a low-cost Apple TV dongle as a way to entice users to the service. The company is said to consider Apple TV+ as a standalone business rather than a mechanism to encourage users to buy into the Apple ecosystem.