Why Netflix and Disney Have to Take Apple TV+ Seriously

As much as Apple dominates most fields it’s in, it’s hard to imagine the company being seen as an underdog in any way. Yet that’s what seems to be happening with Apple TV+, the new streaming service from the makers of your iPhone.

Apple is coming in with a distinct disadvantage, in that it doesn’t have a deep bench of content to draw from, like Netflix or Amazon. It’s new to this game. And it’s debut this year might seem ill-timed given that Disney+ also rolls out this fall, and that service can draw on 90-some years of content. 

But hold the iPhone – Apple may yet be a force to be reckoned with. 

A Disney+ sign displayed at D23 Expo
Disney+ logo | ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Customers who buy Apple devices get Apple TV+ free

Apple is offering its new streaming service as an incentive.

If you buy a new device after September 10, be it an iPhone, iPad, or even the iPod Touch (yes, those are still around), you can get Apple TV + free for a year. You can find the details of the offer here

Better yet, you don’t have to buy the device from Apple itself. The offer is not restricted to specific sales channels. If you get your phone from your cell phone carrier, you’re good to go. And even if you didn’t buy a new Apple device before September 10, you can still get a one-month free trial. 

Once the trial period ends, a $4.99 monthly charge kicks in. That’s considerably lower than Netflix or Disney+. Netflix is $12.99, while Disney+, also launching in November, costs $7 a month. 

What do you get with Apple TV+?

As previously noted, Apple TV+ won’t have a ton of content at launch. A CNET editorial noted that Apple is giving the service away “because nobody’s gonna pay another $5 a month for eight shows and a documentary.”

On the other hand, those eight shows and the documentary are from some pretty heavy hitters. The show that has probably received the most pre-launch attention is The Morning Show, which Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon both star in and produce. It’s a very of the moment drama about a sexual harassment scandal rocking a morning news program. 

Other offerings include See, a drama starring Alfre Woodard and Jason Momoa about a post-apocalyptic world that has rendered most of the population dead or blind. 

Little Voice, a romantic comedy from JJ Abrams and Sara Bareilles, and a new version of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, a resurrection of his fantasy anthology series. You can find the complete list here.

The streaming landscape is getting crowded

The advantage that Apple has is that tens of millions of people who buy their devices this fall and into the holidays will serve as a built-in audience with good growth potential. The disadvantage, aside from being new to the streaming game, is that Apple will find itself in the rare position of being a smaller fish in an increasingly large pond. 

Never mind just Disney+, even more new streamers are coming, such as HBO Max from the folks at Warner Bros., and the newly announced Peacock, which will offer programming from Universal. Once you factor in all the major streaming players’ costs,  the total could exceed $100 a month. For some people, that’s comparable to what they pay for cable or satellite TV, not counting the Internet part of the bill. Suddenly cutting the cord might not seem so cost effective. 

The competition from Disney+ alone seems stiff enough, what with its presold audience for Marvel and Disney shows, not to mention those hundreds of Simpsons episodes. Still, as competitors have learned over the years, they underestimate Tim Cook and company at their peril.