By opening up on-demand video to the masses, Netflix has basically done for streaming what Ghengis Khan did for the postal service. But thanks to its early arrival and virtual stronghold on the streaming industry it rather feels as though everyone’s getting a little bored of talking about Netflix.
So now that Apple – one of the world’s richest companies – has gotten in on the action, has that changed? Sure – due to Apple’s gargantuan size Netflix will have noticed the competition, but it’s doubtful they are quivering in their own massive boots. Considering Apple TV+ is nowhere near big enough (yet) to compete as a replacement for straight Netflix, Apple will have recognized that a more realistic goal is to persuade customers to take out a second or even third video streaming service. What makes that tough is the fact that as customers begin to build up a suite of streaming services, the might start to notice they’re actually hurtling towards the old world of expensive cable packages Netflix was so keen to avoid.
This is why Netflix can take to the sidelines for this particular period in video streaming history, because another major company is vying for this slice of the market: Disney and its new Disney+ platform, which launched just 12 days after the similarly named Apple TV+.
So, how do they compare? Could both succeed? Or might neither survive?
Let’s start with the cost. While money isn’t everything, both companies have picked really interesting price points. For example, Apple has taken a nod from Netflix’s early days and gone in low. $5/month isn’t a lot for a streaming service, but it is for one with such little content. A handful of series, a film or two and a couple added extras will not equal longevity. Though, of course, the free year of access bundled with new Apple devices should help maintain an audience for long enough to allow its shows to bed in. This is a long term investment, after all.
That’s the polar opposite of Disney’s approach. Disney+ has raked in almost every single piece of content under its huge ownership umbrella – movies, TV, even some originals – to provide an absolute tirade of entertainment at launch. We’re talking old animated classics reaching back to the 1930s, we’re talking the latest Marvel movies, we’re talking 30 seasons of The Simpsons, we’re talking… The World According to Jeff Goldblum. Just in case the 80 years of extremely popular releases don’t quite cut it.
And it’s providing this for just $7/month. This price point, higher than Apple TV+ but lower than Netflix, seems remarkably low for the myriad offerings within. Especially considering Disney is well known for protecting its “vault” when it comes to providing home entertainment, only offering titles for limited periods to increase demand and virtually refusing to ever discount its products. This is a complete turnaround for Disney and will provide a real challenge for Apple as both services try to make their mark on the industry.
However, back to Apple’s long-game. It’s brought in some major, major stars for its new shows. Steve Carell, Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon head up The Morning Show while elsewhere Jason Mamoa spearheads Apple’s post-apocalyptic offering See. There’s plenty more on the horizon too, including content from big names like Steven Spielberg and J. J. Abrams. Even Oprah is riding the Apple train. It’s these water-cooler features – content that hasn’t been talked about before, unlike the majority of Disney’s – which Apple hopes will rise above the tidal wave of internet commentary. Though, for now, reviews are admitted mixed.
So, when it comes to choosing between the two, it might just be that we have a little longer to wait on that. Apple’s tendency to offer extended free trials will leave viewers another streaming portal on hand. Users may fall into the habit of watching as new shows are released on a slow burn, and find themselves hooked by the time it comes to actually paying. However, others will gravitate toward Disney+ for the nostalgia value and the sheer bang for your buck.
In the long term – we’re talking years – Apple will end up competing more with Netflix. However, Apple doesn’t necessarily need to offer more than a handful of must-see shows and avoiding clogging up the service with the range of third-party content Netflix supplies. Minimalism is in right now, don’t you know?
While Apple likely has a bigger battle to fight than Disney, experience teaches us that the streaming market is massive and right now, there can be more than one winner.