Free Apple TV+ trial hasn’t enticed large number of subscribers: survey

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Apple TV+
Apple TV+ is spending big to attract paid subscribers.
Photo: Apple

Apple TV+ may be “off to a rousing start” in the eyes of CEO Tim Cook, but a new survey suggests those who have tried the streaming service don’t share his enthusiasm.

Only 28% signed up for the $4.99 monthly subscription after their free trial expired, according to the website Flixed, which helps people cut the cable by offering insights on the growing number of streaming services. Flixed also found most respondents “liked Apple TV+ less” than Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.

Apple TV+ and the battle for paid subscribers

Flixed’s informal survey of 1,090 Apple TV+ trial users may provide a snapshot supporting other indications of a lackluster start for the service. Earlier Thursday, Cult of Mac quoted a London analyst who estimates Apple TV+ attracted fewer than 3 million paid subscribers. Meanwhile, Disney, which started its own streaming service around the same time as Apple, is closing in on 30 million subscribers.

Not all Flixed’s findings look grim, though. Apple TV+ averaged a score of seven in satisfaction questions, 10 being the top marker. Nearly 60% of those still in an Apple TV+ trial period said they would sign up after the free trial ended.

The surveyors noted the disparity.

“Perhaps it’s a matter of behavioral economics: people harbor vague intentions to make a purchase until it’s actually time to pay the bill,” the Flixed team wrote. “Those whose trials haven’t expired also include users who signed up with the purchase of a new device, and maybe those people are more likely to be Apple devotees, more inclined to buy anything the company puts out. Or maybe it takes more than a week to become fully immersed in Apple’s offerings, giving shows sufficient time to pick up steam.”

Apple spared no expense — by some estimates, $6 billion — when it entered a competitive field in November with its maiden lineup of original programs. The Morning Show, the series Apple believed would prove most compelling to viewers, reportedly cost $15 million per episode, a record.

Apple offered a number of free trial options, including one week and one year to give viewers a taste. Apple won’t say how many paid subscribers it signed up.

The Flixed survey showed that The Morning Show, which stars Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, was the most watched Apple TV+ show (54%), but viewers enjoyed shows like Helpsters and Servant more. Oprah’s Book Club and Snoopy in Space came in at the bottom of the list.

Those surveyed watched Apple TV+ an average of 3.31 hours per week. The Flixed team cited a 2018 report showing Netflix watchers hitting 10 hours per week, and Hulu and Amazon each with five.

The Apple TV+ survey took place less than a month after the start of the service. That’s not much time to get a complete understanding of attitudes or the potential momentum Apple could gain as it adds more programs.