Apple TV+ Seems To Be Losing The Streaming Wars — And That's A Shame

Well, this is a bummer. Despite dominating in major categories on Emmy night, Apple TV+ appears to be losing the streaming wars by a wide margin. A new report indicates that it's lagging far behind the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, and Hulu in terms of subscriber numbers.

Previous reports had pegged Apple TV+ as being in the neighborhood of 40 million subscribers, close to Hulu's range. However, according to Variety (via The Playlist), the real number, as of July 2021, may be about half that.

The number came out during Apple's negotiations with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). The Playlist notes that "there are certain thresholds of subscriber counts that allow for streaming platforms to get discounted rates for crew members." Apparently, Apple TV+ doesn't meet that threshold.

Apple is negotiating with this "international" union, but one important distinction to make is that Variety's report is talking about subscriber numbers in the U.S. and Canada. The IATSE only covers the U.S. and its territories and Canada. Earlier this year (per Newsweek), the analysis firm Statista estimated that Apple TV+ had reached 40 million subscribers by the end of 2020.

Obviously, that's a big discrepancy, 20 million versus 40 million. The only thing I can figure is that those other 20 million subscribers come from outside the U.S. and Canada. Either way, Apple TV+ is nowhere near Netflix, which reportedly has over 200 million subscribers. Even Disney+, which launched around the same time as Apple TV+ in late 2019, has it significantly beat, with over 100 million subscribers.

The Big Tech Underdog

As one of the "A"s in GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon), Apple TV+ falls under the Big Tech banner and you couldn't exactly call it an underdog. Yet its most popular series, "Ted Lasso," focuses on an underdog soccer coach; and that show and others like "For All Mankind" seek to deliver aspirational content.

Speaking as someone who just spent countless hours watching Apple TV+ shows and writing about 10 that justify a subscription, it's disappointing to hear that the service hasn't found the same audience yet as other streamers. It's true that it doesn't have a deep bench of old movies, like Netflix does, or a big movie studio behind it, like HBO Max does. What it does have, though, is some quality shows, like "Foundation" and "Losing Alice," and quality movies, like Sofia Coppola's "On the Rocks" and Joel Coen's upcoming "The Tragedy of Macbeth."

You can also do an add-on with it like AMC+, which plugs you into some of Shudder's horror library, not to mention AMC's shows and other Oscar-winning movies, including "The North Water" and "Capote," both of which we recently highlighted in our Daily Stream column.

The thing Apple TV+ has going for it with some of its new and original content is production value. That might not be enough to lure some subscribers, but if you're looking for some good shows to binge, Apple TV+ has more than one.