It’s been a busy week for new streaming services – and it’s still early.
Apple TV+ reportedly will debut in November at $9.99 a month, which isn’t really unexpected. The Apple premium SVOD service lands squarely between the $6.99 Disney says it’ll be charging for Disney+ and the $12.99 Netflix charges for its most popular plan.
The bigger news from Apple? The $6 billion its spending on original content in an effort to keep up with the rest of the crowd already spending billions of dollars on their own original content.
Apple’s original budget, about $1 billion a year or so ago, has bloated as the cost of content continues to rise and its competitors get more content rich, to boot. The company reportedly is helping to drive that content inflation, spending fistfuls of cash on a pair of shows, Sci-Fi drama See and The Morning Show.
Apple said it will release new content on a monthly basis after it launches in 100 international markets.
Apple CEO isn’t looking to be a Netflix killer – is there such a thing – but rather believes that the longer-term game will see consumers taking multiple OTT products, saying during its earnings call that “we’re going to do our best to convince them that the Apple TV+ product should be one of them.”
With a $6 billion content budget – to start with – and Apple’s history of quality that should be an easier job.
New streaming service AT&T TV news, too
AT&T also this week began its rollout of its new streaming services (or, its newest iteration, anyway), the alphabet soup AT&T TV, in 10 markets with a nationwide deployment scheduled for 2020.
The $59.99 price tag is 10 bucks more than YouTube TV, and offers roughly the same number of channels, in the 70 range, which is probably just 60 more channels than the average viewer actually watches on a regular basis.
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And, that’s the price for the first year of a two-year package. In true pay-TV operator fashion, AT&T TV offers additional tiers that can take the monthly price up to $79.99. Add on Showtime and add on another $11. Add on HBO, and add on another $15. The big package price tag? That’s $105.99, which sounds an awful lot like any other pay-TV package.
And, again, that’s for the first year of a two-year contract. Want to have a second TV hooked up? Add another $10 a month for an Android STB.
Has the last five years of subscriber erosion taught these folks nothing? In Q2, AT&T lost more than 778,000 subs from U-Verse TV and satellite service DirecTV – which it explained away as “low-value subscribers. It also lost 168,000 subs from its DirecTV Now streaming service.
Doesn’t Disney+ need Amazon Fire?
That other new streaming service, Disney+, which also is launching in November – along with Apple TV+ – is doing so without support for Amazon Fire TV devices, which could be a pretty big deal considering a Parks Associates study that showed Amazon Fire TV was installed in 30% of the US market (behind Roku at nearly 40%). But, increasingly, US consumers are adding smart TVs at an increasing rate – which don’t need to be hooked up to anything but the Internet.
Disney+ aps will be available for Apple iOS, tvOS, Android and Android TV, Roku devices (including Roku TVs), web browsers, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and – a crucial addition – will allow casting to an array of smart TVs via AirPlay.
Realistically, Disney and Amazon eventually will iron out a deal because both need each other.
Pluto TV looks to expand reach with NFL library content
Ad-supported Pluto TV, meanwhile, also rolled out some big news this week, announcing it was launching a new channel, NFL Channel 465. The channel will include library content from NFL Films, including classic games and other NFL programming, including past seasons of Hard Knocks and NFL 100 Plays of 2018. The problem? No current or live content, a big void.
The bottom line
Is the market becoming oversaturated with SVOD services? Nope. The market is testing to see which service models work best. And, just like TV channels searching for ratings wins, offerings will change. Prices will be adjusted, packages will increase and decrease in size. Contracts, hopefully, will go by the wayside as services realize consumers just aren’t willing to pay for them.
Can AT&T, for example, really believe it’s going to stay relevant offering an OTT pay-TV bundle that’s as unattractive as a traditional pay-TV bundle? Let’s hope not. And that’s likely the reason it’s going to be offering a slew of different OTT packages to consumers in coming months.
Disney CEO Bob Iger’s got it right. He’s looking to a hybrid mix of SVOD and AVOD products as the future course for the Mouse House, recognizing that the Golden Age of traditional TV, already tarnished, is destined to go away for good.