Apple TV+ could be shut out of Russia if it gets too successful

By

Apple TV+ could have 26 million paying subs by 2025; 2.6 million currently
Apple TV+ can be big. Just not too big.
Photo: Apple

Apple TV+ could find itself shut out of Russia if it turns out be a big success, a new report claims.

A law that restricts foreign ownership in video streaming services to a 20% stake would kick in if Apple TV+ reaches 50% of Russian video streaming users.

While Apple has not disclosed how many subscribers it has in Russia, it may have to do so under the country’s laws. Should Apple hit this 50% benchmark it could face restrictions or being driven out of the market completely.

“At this point, we don’t see Apple TV+ as a competitor, since they have a totally different content policy and audience,” Elena Khlebnikova, content director at Russian online video service Tvzavr, told The Hollywood Reporter. “As we know, the service doesn’t offer content dubbed into Russian. [This] probably means that they don’t expect a substantial audience at the initial stage, as Russian viewers are mostly not used to subtitled content.”

Russia passed the law two years ago. However, the new report suggests that “US media and tech giants are likely to face increased pressure in Russia” in 2020. Russia is currently tightening the laws as part of its protectionist measures.

Apple TV+ in Russia

This is just one of the challenges Apple faces in Russia. The same report discusses legislation that will come into effect on July 1. This states that all computers and mobile devices sold in Russia must come with preinstalled Russian software. Apple would have to preinstall a Russian web browser and several apps.

Companies which fail to conform to these laws will face hefty fines. If Apple decides not to go along with the new laws, it may wind up pulling out of Russia entirely. Apple has already previously agreed to store local iCloud data on servers based in Russia.

Apple TV+ launched in Russia, alongside the US and other markets, in November. The price of the service in Russia is lower than in the States. Monthly subscription to the service totals RUB 200 ($3.20) in Russia. That compares to $4.99 in America. The service is free for a year for anyone who buys a new iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV.

Source: Hollywood Reporter