Billie Eilish doc attracts coveted young viewers to Apple TV+

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New documentary
Sounds like the Billie Eilish doc brought a coveted crowd to Cupertino's streaming service.
Photo: Apple TV+

How do you get the kids to tune into your underachieving streaming service? Buy a documentary about one of the hottest young singer/songwriters in the world.

That’s what Apple TV+ did when it snapped up the rights to new doc Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry — and the strategy apparently worked. As per usual, Cupertino won’t reveal the actual number of people who watched the film since its premiere last week. However, an insider report says the music doc brought a ton of new, young viewers to Apple TV+.

Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. reports on the numbers, which are blurry but quite big (relatively speaking, at least):

How did audiences respond to the Apple TV+ premiere of Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry, which premiered in over 100 countries and theaters? The streamer would not divulge specific numbers — they never do — but I can report that the film became the biggest hit title for young adult audiences that Apple has had so far across its slate of films and TV series. The movie drew a record-breaking 33% new viewers to the service, with young adult audiences fueling the momentum from the moment the film premiered on Thursday, February 25. Nearly half of the film’s audience came from outside the U.S. and was number one among young adults across the globe, including the U.K., Australia, Mexico, Germany, Brazil, Russia, the Netherlands, France, and more, per Apple.

Apple TV+ continues to gain steam

Ever since its launch in November 2019, Apple TV+ has struggled to produce a breakout hit that captivates the world. Apple continues to plow piles of cash into snatching up films and TV series. And the slate of Apple Originals grows bigger by the month.

However, the closest Apple TV+ has come to a certifiable hit is Ted Lasso, the comedy about a goofball football coach who takes the helm of a U.K. soccer squad. Jason Sudeikis scored a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy this week for his portrayal of the lovable coach. Those kinds of accolades should help.

And Ted Lasso isn’t the only winner. Apple TV+ earned plenty of other awards and nominations over the past year. But so far, all estimates indicate it lags behind other streaming services. Apple even extended the year-long free subscription it includes with the purchase of certain Apple devices not once but twice. (The company reportedly extended the subs because COVID-19 restrictions slowed production of new content to a crawl.)

Meanwhile, competitor Disney+ scored an unqualified hit with The Mandalorian. And Netflix continues to dominate the streaming industry when it comes to both subscriber numbers and critical acclaim.

The World’s a Little Blurry gives Apple TV+ a boost

Acquiring more high-profile content like The World’s a Little Blurry seems crucial to the ongoing success of Apple TV+. Like Tom Hanks’ World War II movie Greyhound — which generated similarly vague whispers of outrageous success over at Deadline — the Eilish doc apparently attracted tons of new viewers.

If those folks fall for Ted Lasso, then dip their beaks into Tiny World and other enticing Apple TV+ shows, perhaps Cupertino’s streaming service will start to gain momentum. It’s not just about numbers, which Apple likely won’t reveal until the service reaches a certifiable milestone. It’s about making a cultural splash — releasing exclusive content that the world (or segments of it) can’t stop buzzing about.

As for the Eilish doc, Cult to Mac’s review of The World’s a Little Blurry called it “a mix of pretty standard rise-to-power, behind-the-scenes footage of young Eilish’s career, with brother and songwriting collaborator Finneas, and on-the-ground reporting of her tour.”

Source: Deadline