Before the pandemic, the streaming media services industry was dominated by Netflix and Amazon Prime. Each had a very different start. Netflix was a DVD-by-mail company. Launched in 1997, it started moving to streaming services in 2007. With over 200 million subscribers worldwide, it is arguably the largest service by number of subscribers. Amazon Prime Video was launched as one of the benefits of Amazon Prime, Amazon’s premium customer service package.
The growth of some services has slowed. Most notably, Netflix recently lost subscribers.
Streaming has been significantly boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic. People were forced to stay home and most theaters were closed for much of the year. It was even feared that the largest of them, AMC, would go bankrupt.
Several streaming services have entered this market over the past few years. The most successful of them is Disney Plus. Launched in November 2019. It included films from Disney studios – Disney, Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar. Many films from these studios have been the most successful films in the world based on the domestic box office. Disney+ has over 150 million subscribers.
In the next tier of subscriber-based streaming service is HBO Max. She has more than 80 million subscribers.
Most of the top services have prices at or above $9.99 per month. The cheapest, at $4.99 per month, is Apple TV+. It is also, at this stage, the least successful, with a number of subscribers of just over 50 million.
Despite its size, Apple TV+ is a major competitor to other industry leaders. It has one of the strongest balance sheets in the world. It continues to generate billions of dollars in cash flow every year. And, it has a hardware (iPhone, Watch, Mac) installed base of over a billion devices. He can market directly to them. And, while the programming has started to hurt Netflix’s finances, Apple has no such problem and won’t.
Apple’s $4.99 price, the lowest among the major services, and its branding and marketing prowess mean it poses a danger to every other service in the US and abroad.