Apple TV+ reportedly made big inroads while users were stuck home during the coronavirus lockdown, a recent study by Parks Associates claims.
The research firm notes that more than two in five U.S. households with broadband have trialed a streaming video service during lockdown. A surprisingly large 8% of households have trialed four or more. Among new subscribers to TV streaming services, Apple TV+ was sampled by 27% of households, the report states.
Alongside the 27% of households that reportedly tried Apple TV+, 49% subscribed to Disney+. As such, the report claims that “the crisis helped these services quickly increase their subscriber base.”
“The industry is working on new hybrid content strategies as a result of production halts,” Parks Associates research director Steve Nason said in a statement. “Major players like AT&T for Warner Brothers and Comcast for Universal Studios are greatly concerned about the delays in content production on the launches of new services, like HBO Max and Peacock. Free trials will bring in new subscribers at the launch, and roughly seven in ten have subscribed to at least one OTT service they have trialed. OTT services need to be creative in building an engaging service, but during this time of heavy video consumption, OTT services have the opportunity like never before to win over new video consumers and retain them as long-term subscribers.”
Keeping the Apple TV+ momentum after lockdown
What all of this means remains to be seen. A recent report suggests that Apple TV+ currently has in the region of 10 million users. However, at least half of these are on the free trial offered by Apple. Apple gives one year’s free subscription to anyone who bought a new iPad, iPhone, Mac or Apple TV in the past year. That means that, unlike other services, lots of people are likely getting Apple TV+ for free.
Apple TV+ is also trying a very different strategy to other companies like Netflix. Its $4.99 per month fee is reasonable, but it does not have an enormous archive of content. Apple’s emphasis is on original shows rather than reruns of existing properties. The Apple Originals on Apple TV+ have so far been well-received by audiences (more so than by critics). But it hasn’t yet had a breakout hit to rival Netflix shows like House of Cards or Stranger Things.
Will Apple be able to retain enough of its new subscribers to make Apple TV+ a big hit? Will people cancel their subs now that things are opening up following the initial COVID-19 outbreak? And how will the current coronavirus-induced production freeze affect Apple TV+’s already smaller number of new shows? These are all questions yet to be answered.
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