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Apple TV + will be covering over 100 countries already by November 1st

by Andrea Fornasiero | 11.09.2019

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November is behind the corner, side to side with a true ‘streaming war’, which we thought would have started on Tuesday 12th and on the other side of the ocean, with the launch of Disney + in the US, planned to land in Europe but exclusively in Holland on the same day. On the night of September 10th, instead, a real coup de theater took place in the US, drastically hurrying the battle: in line with its style, Apple held back, observed, and evaluated the situation, only to reveal its decision at the last moment, in a tested “surprise and delight” strategy.

And certainly its announcement generated surprise and delight. Taking into consideration the mystery that had been surrounding the platform, for example, no one expected it to launch before Disney that had been leaking information and timetables for months, as well as disclosing a Marvel project to be released by 2022. Not only: the launch of Disney + is planned to remain quite shy and mainly limited to the US, while Apple TV + will be covering over 100 countries already by November 1st. After all, Apple is well aware of the global market and can rely on the diffusion of its devices, while Disney still lounges on a US Hollywood-centric logic, where box offices and US ratings come first and “cultural colonies” later. The strategy difference can be compared to XX vs. XXI century, which should certainly spur Disney to move fast by expanding its platform within other territories.

Also because ‘Mickey’s house’ was outshone by Cupertino on another front, too: the price (and here comes the ‘delight’): Apple TV + in fact will cost only 4.99 dollars a month, a remarkable price considering that everyone expected the double: a few weeks ago, in fact, a Bloomberg leak hinted it would have cost 9.99 dollars a month. Disney +, which will cost $ 6.99, apparently was the most cost-effective service on the future market and is now two dollars above the competition. Naturally, the offer is quite different – we’ll get to that soon – and it can also be associated with other TV streaming services: in a bundle with ESPN and Hulu (but in a commercial version, not in the ad-free version), for example, it will cost 12.99 dollars. Yet again, ESPN and Hulu are mainly American, proving that Disney’s strategy is less global.

Also, there’s another crucial element on the price front: an Apple TV + account can be shared on six devices at once without any price increase, while a Disney + account only on 4. Naturally, considering that Netflix costs as much as $ 16 a month for 4 multiple profiles, it becomes clear that both newcomers will be enormously more competitive.

Both Apple and Disney have already implemented aggressive plans for their launches: at the recent D23 convention at the end of August, Disney offered the accredited partakers subscription packages for the first and even for the first three years of service, practically asking for a demonstration of faith, which according to the media analyst Paul Dergarabedian created long queues. The Cupertino company instead promised a free year of subscription to those who bought a new Apple mobile, obviously announcing the new iPhone 11 at the same time, which seems to be destined to unleash the usual lines at the Apple stores on Day One (although not as long as in the past).

From this point of view, Apple chose to offer its streaming service to its loyal buyers as icing on the cake, a way of making them feel part of a large family, following a model that recalls Amazon and Prime Video, which is included in a larger Amazon Prime package. On the other hand, Apple + will be progressively available on an increasing number of devices and browsers and not limited to Apple customers, trying to gain new Apple followers. An option that Amazon doesn’t offer in several countries.

Apple’s services, therefore, lie somewhere between Amazon and Disney’s, which it not only shares the + in the name with, but also its family target: for months, in fact, it has been made known that Apple will avoid strong content titles, to the point that the Amazing Stories remake has lost Bryan Fuller due to creative discrepancies. Both services also focus on a limited number of top-notch titles to oppose Netflix’ nearly uncontrolled offer.

If Disney retains unfading brands as its own and others, like Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar and National Geographic, Apple on the other hand rode its glorious reputation (and its deep pockets) to seize actors and filmmakers of great prestige. And undoubtedly, it had no problem in breaking a few piggy banks: rumor has it that the first two seasons of The Morning Show – a dramedy on a morning news starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell – cost a staggering 300 million dollars. We still don’t know how many episodes we’re talking about, but it will certainly be among the most expensive series ever. And judging by the trailer, even the series See, featuring superstar Jason Momoa in an epic fantasy created by Steven Knight of Peaky Blinders, seems to spare no expense.

It’s however worth remembering that, as Hollywood knows well, a list of actors and filmmakers is not enough to sell a success: if the material is original the public is wary, so it may be no coincidence that Apple has also acquired the rights of prestigious literary sagas such as Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” or a much-loved series from the 1980s: Spielberg’s Amazing Stories. These titles are however planned for the future, while for its launch Apple aims above all to strengthen its brand and the new iPhone that implicitly offers a year to convince its buyers to remain subscribers and acts as a trendsetter to expand its streaming service. Disney on the other hand, launches its streaming channel with The Mandalorian, a series set in the Star Wars universe, spanning over two or three-months with episodes available weekly. Conversely, it isn’t clear how Apple will be distributing its products: it might choose a hybrid model, releasing a few episodes instantly, and others week to week, while it should be excluded that, considering the few number of catchy titles (besides See and The Morning Show, Dickinson and For All Mankind will be available starting November 1st), it might decide to burn them in a binge-watching flash. Disney is also in large advantage when it comes to libraries, both TV and film (thanks to its classics and to the live action remake of Lady and the Tramp produced exclusively for the platform), where it actually doesn’t fear rivals.

It remains to be seen how the viewers will react and what the groups that are still to launch a streaming service will announce – from AT&T with HBO Max to Comcast / Universal all the way to ViacomCBS. For sure, their road has suddenly become steeper.