Apple TV+ could have 40 million subs now, 100 million by 2024

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Are Apple TV+ prospects sky high, or does it have its head in the clouds?
Photo: Apple

Apple has yet to announce official numbers for Apple TV+ subscribers, but Wedbush analyst Dan Ives think he has some answers. According to Ives, Apple’s streaming video service currently has between 30 million and 40 million subscribers.

However, he says the “vast majority” of these Apple TV+ subs are unlikely to be paying $4.99 per month. Instead, they’re taking advantage of the year’s free subscription thrown in because they bought a new iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV. The analyst says he’s confident that things could pick up, though.

In an email to clients sent Thursday and seen by Cult of Mac, Ives said that with an installed base of around 925 million active iPhone users worldwide, Apple has the opportunity to gain 100 million subscribers in the next three to four years. That would put Apple TV+ adoption ahead of Apple Music when judged on a year-by-year basis. Apple Music hit 40 million subscribers in April 2018. It launched in June 2015. (Apple Music, however, does not offer a free tier for Apple customers.)

Ives thinks Apple has so far built a “compelling list” of shows on the service. He also believes Apple is spending around $6 billion per year to create new content. He also mentions, but does not elaborate on, the possibility that Apple could acquire a movie studio such as MGM, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures or A24. It is not clear from his note whether this would factor into his estimated 100 million subscribers prediction.

Apple TV+ subs: Not everyone is quite so positive

Ives is well-known for being a particularly bullish analyst when it comes to all things Apple. Not everyone is so enthusiastic, though. An article published by Wired Thursday — titled “Has Apple finally bitten off way more than it can chew?” — contains the observation:

“[Apple’s version of] Hollywood’s magic has failed to cast a spell on consumers. Apple hasn’t released subscriber stats for TV+, but Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi claims that fewer than ten million opted for the free 12-month trial Apple offered.”

Hitting 100 million subs would definitely be a great landmark for Apple. But it’s nonetheless behind where Netflix is today. Currently, Netflix has upward of 165 million subscribers, and a content budget of $17 billion a year. With new services like Quibi and Disney+ on the scene, it’s going to be tough to carve out a big user base — and capture viewers’ attention.