You might say: "The jury is still out.” You might ask: “Define success in this market.”
Now six months since its launch -- two weeks before the Disney+ start -- you probably only heard of one noteworthy Apple TV+ series, "The Morning Show," with high-profile talent Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.
While the series has gotten decent reviews and awards, is that enough to make it -- and the Apple TV+ service -- that next “hot” thing? Now ask the same question of Disney+: Is the hit “The Mandalorian” enough?
Consider that Disney+ now says it has 50 million subscribers worldwide. Also consider that, per estimates, Apple TV+ has around 33.6 million global subscribers, according to Ampere Analysis. (Apple hasn’t disclosed any data.) Does that mean success?
At the same time, factor in that both Disney and Apple have had a head start, due to their respective free, year-long promotions. For Disney, this came from a promotional deal for Verizon customers, which could account for at least 10 or million subscribers in the U.S.
Likewise, Apple gave away a free yearly subscription service for Apple TV+ globally, for those who bought any Apple device recently -- iPhones, iPads and other equipment.
Perhaps it is obvious even with an estimated $6 billion in TV-movie production content spending by Apple -- competitive with other premium streaming services -- all this is new ground for the company. But again, it's Apple, a company with deep financial pockets -- much more than many legacy, media, entertainment and communications companies.
Also consider Apple TV+'s importance for the whole company. It a small piece currently, but it may grow.
For Walt Disney, Disney+ seems to be a bigger, key piece of its future when it comes to movies and TV entertainment distribution. This has been apparent in recent earnings releases and analysts recommendations. And now with COVID-19 concerns -- with little in the way of revenues coming from movie releases, less usage at ESPN, and theme-park closures -- perhaps a bigger focus.
Entertainment is still new ground for Apple. TV and movies are a hit-driven, publicity-driven business -- something that is not completely in Apple’s DNA.
But don’t write Apple off. Like Disney, WarnerMedia and NBCU, it knows consumer marketing well. The question is whether that pristine messaging patina can evolve into the tricky area of entertainment.
Come November, when both year-long free promotions for Disney+ and Apple TV+ expire, the early morning glow of these services will transition to a stark afternoon profile -- full of shadows.