Will Apple TV+ be a threat to Netflix?

LOS ANGELES • Mr Tim Cook went into full salesman mode at Apple's promotional event on Tuesday as he revealed the price of a monthly subscription for its streaming service, Apple TV+.

"All these incredible shows for the price of a movie rental," Apple's chief executive said. "This is crazy."

The cost is US$5 (S$6.90) a month. Apple TV+ is scheduled to debut as a competitor to Netflix and Amazon on Nov 1.

Disney announced US$7 as the monthly price for Disney+, which has a Nov 12 start date.

An Amazon Prime subscription, which includes streaming, is US$10 a month, while Hulu goes for US$6 a month with advertisements and US$12 without.

WarnerMedia's streaming service, HBO Max, is scheduled to go live next year at no lower than US$15 a month, and Netflix's standard plan costs US$13 a month.

Why is Apple the cheapest of the bunch? One reason is that it will offer much less content than its rivals.

While Netflix has a vast library of material from other studios and seems to unveil a new show every other day, Apple TV+ will offer roughly 12 shows in its first wave of programming over the next year.

Disney+ will boast original movies, Star Wars films, blockbusters from Marvel Entertainment and Pixar, as well as The Simpsons and other properties it picked up in its purchase of much of the 21st Century Fox entertainment empire.

HBO Max will draw on its vast Warner film archive, which includes Wonder Woman and the Harry Potter series, not to mention decades of HBO programming and Friends.

Apple TV+ aims to lure subscribers with a simple pitch: by claiming that its shows will be of higher quality than what they will find elsewhere. But that pitch was easier to make in the days before streaming.

Now, there are more shows - and a greater variety - than ever before.

Apple plans to roll out new shows each month, including a thriller from director M.Night Shyamalan and a series starring Octavia Spencer.

In the not too distant future, it will have a slate big enough to rival networks that have been in the business for decades.

The first hurdle will be the reaction of critics and social media users. Then comes awards season.

Apple's first shows will be eligible for the 2020 Golden Globes; nominees will be announced on Dec 9.

If Apple is able to storm the stage at the Beverly Hilton on Jan 5, any remaining Hollywood sceptics will have no choice but to consider the tech upstart as a major player in entertainment.

The Apple Arcade subscription service will be launched on Sept 19 in more than 100 markets, including Singapore, for $6.98 a month.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2019, with the headline 'Will Apple TV+ be a threat to Netflix?'. Print Edition | Subscribe