Bloomberg, citing unidentified sources, said the company is eyeing a $9.99 monthly subscription price for the streaming service, which it hopes to launch by November. While the report said a free trial could be offered, the notion of a subscription fee at all contradicts one popular theory making the rounds that the tech giant could offer original programming for free to anyone who owns an Apple device. The company’s massive installed base became a talking point in March in a promotional event held at its Cupertino, CA headquarters. “They’re in a billion pockets, y’all,” enthused Oprah Winfrey, one of several high-profile content partners.
Apple TV+ will also be available via some third-party connected-TV devices and will feature other companies’ streaming apps in addition to Apple’s originals. In fact, driving overall streaming activity and collecting related service fees — as it does with music streaming and the App Store — are central components of Apple’s strategy.
The Financial Times, meanwhile, reported that the company has set aside $6 billion for programming, though the timeframe for that budget was not specified. Still, the figure would be a big jump up from the $1 billion initially reported to be at the disposal of Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, the former Sony executives recruited to run Apple’s streaming effort. Netflix continues to lead all spenders, funneling $15 billion into its hundreds of TV and film offerings.
Apple declined to comment on the reports when contacted by Deadline. The company’s effort to join the streaming derby has been an enigma for Hollywood even after the March event, which featured a parade of A-listers but scant footage or details about the launch plans. Erlicht and Van Amburg are well-respected TV industry veterans, but have elicited frustrated reactions from some dealmakers and studios given the uncertainties persisting so close to the launch date. Apple has long maintained an aura of secrecy around many of its new offerings before their debut, of course. But the Silicon Valley style is requiring a lot of adjustment by Hollywood.
Disney, by contrast, has opted for more comprehensive clarity, detailing its financial plans and expectations for Disney+ at an investor day in April. The service launches November 12.
On Monday, Apple rolled out the full trailer for The Morning Show, its pricey drama starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell. Citing unidentified sources familiar with the budget for the show, the FT said its budget of “hundreds of millions” exceeded that of the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, which cost $15 million an episode.
After Disney+ is up and running, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s still-unnamed, ad-supported service will debut in the spring of 2020.
Pricing is a key element of the intensifying streaming competition. Disney+ will cost $7 a month and will be part of a $13-a-month bundle alongside ESPN+ and Hulu’s basic, on-demand version. Most Netflix subscribers pay $13 in the U.S. WarnerMedia has not confirmed HBO Max pricing, though it is expected to come in slightly above the current $15 level for HBO Now. NBCU, meanwhile, is looking to leverage traditional TV’s well-established business model. It will make its streaming service free for subscribers of Comcast and Sky but serve ads along with programming.