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Apple wants to teach the world to see TV improve

I think it’s fair to think that the Apple TV+ service hasn’t quite set the world on fire, and while many of its shows are good (and The Banker is just brilliant), the company has some way to go before it can be certain people will maintain their subscriptions later this year.

So, why not just give the service away?

A little Apple everywhere

With an estimated 20% of the global population currently on lock-down streaming media services are signing up plenty of customers.

In comparison to the previous week, Antenna tells us Disney+ sign-ups trebled as schools shut in reaction to the pandemic. HBO saw a 90% gain, Showtime 78%, Netflix 47% and TV+ saw a 10% uplift in new subscribers.

This isn’t at all surprising as stressed out workers suddenly find themselves needing to juggle working at home alongside parental responsibilities while also attempting to protect themselves and their families against a disease said to be more deadly than Spanish Flu, which infected a quarter of the global population.

No wonder people are seeking out a little entertainment.

Apple’s and oranges

Comparison between the different streaming services isn’t quite appropriate. Apple’s is clearly identified with its own platforms, and while you can get the service on most current smart televisions, Roku, Fire TV sticks and so on, most of its present users are likely to be Apple fans and recent product purchasers exploring the 12-month free access deal the company provides.

The thing is, the economics of the business are changing. Economies are tottering as productivity falls. The challenges we face are unprecedented.

People are dying before their time.

Traumatized as we will become, we will inevitably also become risk averse. This will challenge business. We will want:

  • Devices that last longer.
  • Products that are private, secure and regularly updated.
  • But when it comes to content, they’ll want access to as much high-quality content as they can find for the cost.

Apple has the first two bases covered, but its TV+ catalog is limited – dollar for dollar you get access to more content using any of the other big services.

That’s just the reality, and while it’s a reality Apple could have slowly overcome as it reached deals and alliances in the coming years, the consequences of the pandemic mean it must think a little differently if it’s going to build up its subscription base.

Big isn’t best

Don’t get me wrong – I’m confident that over time Apple’s streaming TV service will become yet another of its legendary products.

You should never judge the company by what you think you see, as its passion for incremental improvement means the grass is always greener a few steps ahead.

That means I’m also pretty confident the company has already planned those steps.

I imagine they’ll include combined music and movie services, alliances and deals with content providers, and continued investment into unique proprietary shows you just can’t find elsewhere.

I can also see sports coverage, augmented reality and new AR-based entertainment experiences coming down the pipe, particularly as a new edition Apple, TV box is also currently being discussed on the crazy rumor sites.

TV dreams

The company clearly has mass market ambitions with TV+.

It must do – why else has it reached deals with competitors to ensure its channels are available on their devices?

However, outside of its own walled garden Apple needs to work a little harder to bring consumers across.

Think about it: If you’re not an Apple user, or never have been one, then you’ll be used to what you have and won’t know what to expect from the company.

Customer loyalty is hard to shift.

That’s great when it works in your favour, but less useful when it works against you.

Apple has the problem of ensuring that consumers don’t judge its service too early. It doesn’t want to foster the preconception that its services are only for Apple fans – and that’s kind of how I think people see the service at the moment. That’s inevitable when it is its core customers who are enjoying a free year’s access with their Apple product.

Apple can change this

It can also get even more eyeballs watching its shows, many of which are really good. It can also do something some of the other streaming services can’t do, given that it owns its content and makes it available in 40 languages. There’s a pandemic going on, everyone is frightened, and we all need to chill out a little.

So, why not do the right thing, particularly for those who don’t enjoy the privileges of access that come with being in some parts of the U.S.A., and offer up access to its TV+ service for free until November as a mark of solidarity with a frightened population who are probably less likely than ever to sign-up for another regularly recurring subscription at this time?

Given the cash it has already spent on the experiment, I don’t think it has much to lose.

The way I see it is that once its free trials begin to time out come November lots of people will unsubscribe anyway, so the best protection against that is to increase the size of its initial base – while continuing to improve the actual product. And, as I said, I have a very strong hunch that if you judge the service on what you see now, you’ll be holding that opinion wrong.

The problem really is one of convincing people to switch it on in the first place.

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