Disney+ Pricing Will Hopefully Set a Benchmark for Apple TV+

BY Evan Selleck

Published 12 Apr 2019

Earlier this year, Apple took the stage and announced a variety of new efforts, most of which lean heavily into subscription services. Potentially the biggest is Apple TV+, which will see Apple offering a platform for some of the biggest names in Hollywood and creation in general to bring stories to Apple device owners.

If you like movies and TV, then there is a lot to be looking forward to with Apple TV+. Sure, nothing can be said about quality just yet, not even if we’re looking at Carpool Karaoke and the terrible Planet of the Apps. Those two efforts aren’t the same thing as a Steven Spielberg-produced Amazing Stories anthology series. Or a new drama starring Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies) and Jennifer Aniston (Friends). Not to mention a brand new puppet friend named Cody, inspired by Sesame Street, who will help kids learn how to code, or the Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Game of Thrones) drama, See.

There is even more coming down the pipe, too. That includes a partnership with production studio A24, which will see their first effort be a motion picture directed by Sofia Coppola (The Beguiled) called On The Rocks starring Bill Murray (Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters). Basically, the point here is that Apple has a lot coming for its original film and TV platform, and there will be even more in the future.

But, it’s not the library that Netflix offers. Or Hulu, which Disney now owns a majority stake in. Or even Amazon Prime (even though Apple will be pretty close) at this point. And it’s not going to be close to the library that Disney will offer with Disney+ later this year.

It’s not easy to try and gauge how much a subscription service should, or will, cost. Netflix, even though it has recently raised prices, is still an incredible deal at its highest monthly tier of $16 per month. Hulu just dropped prices for its basic package to under $10 per month. How big a role do advertisements play? How about for original content, where there might not need to be ads, or expenses paid for third-party content. All of these things, and much more, need to be weighed by these companies that offer a monthly, or annual, subscription.

I think there is some genuine concern that Apple TV+ is going to cost a lot of money every month. This is Apple, and the company doesn’t have a track record for “undercutting the competition” when it comes to price. And considering we’ve heard the company go to bat for pricing its devices for “the experience” over the specifications, original movies and TV seem like a perfect place to potentially overcharge compared to the competition.

Whether or not it’s actually overcharging will come down to the individual, just like it does for Netflix or Hulu or Amazon or any other service out there.

But I don’t think Apple TV+ should cost more than $10 per month. In fact, I don’t think Apple should price its original TV and film platform above $7 per month. We don’t know how many titles are going to be available on Apple TV+ right out of the gate, but the safe bet is that it won’t be much. It won’t compare to Disney+ when that arrives in November, and that’s priced at $7 per month. And Disney is working on the back of known quantities. It’s going to launch titles like Captain Marvel and the other Marvel movies, as well as the Pixar films, and, yes, the Star Wars films. And original content set in those universes, too! Disney is going all-in with Disney+ and it’s pricing the service aggressively, which is absolutely what it should be doing.

Apple needs to do the same. And not just because it won’t have the stable of films and TV shows to go on right out of the gate, even though that’s a big part of it. But it’s because this is Apple we’re talking about. Of the people I directly spoke to following Apple’s “It’s Show Time” event last month, I was the only person actually excited about Apple TV+. I just don’t think anyone is expecting anything all that exceptional, or even good, from this service. (And that may have something to do with its first two original series, yeah.)

If Apple prices Apple TV+ closer to Netflix than it does Hulu or Disney+, they’ve missed the mark. They’ve missed a real opportunity to actually sway customers over in its direction. Because Disney+ is cheap enough that a lot of people will be able to add it to their already (probably ridiculous) list of subscription services. Apple needs to be the same thing.

Just one more service. Not the only service that some customers will be able to use.

Disney+ hasn’t been a secret for quite some time, and considering it’s the major new player on the bock I’m kind of hoping that Apple was waiting on purpose to announce anything about Apple TV+’s pricing until after Disney made its own announcement. I don’t expect Apple to break its own news this week, but I’ve got my fingers crossed it doesn’t price this service too high just because it believes its content is better than what the other services are offering.

We’ll see what happens. What do you think Apple TV+ is going to be priced at?