Apple told a show business union that its Apple TV+ service has fewer than 20 million subscribers, much less than the competition. It’s the first time that the firm has commented on the size of its audience, though it happened through a third party.
The revelation became public because Apple, the richest and most successful company on earth, pays the production crews for its TV shows and movies on a scale based on the popularity of Apple TV+. And with only 20 million subscribers, that pay is less than the union representing those crews was hoping for and expecting.
“Workers on certain ‘new media’ streaming projects get paid less, even on productions with budgets that rival or exceed those of traditionally released blockbusters,” the union writes in a press release.
As CNBC notes, Apple is putting lots of money into Apple TV+ content. For example, it spends $15 million per episode for shows like “The Morning Show,” and with the extended free trials for Apple TV+ ending this past July, it will rely on content to drive subscriber growth.
By comparison, Netflix reported in July that it had over 209 million paying subscribers. Netflix is the market leader in this segment, of course, but Warner reported in July that HBO Max had over 67.5 million subscribers, and Disney+ had over 116 million subscribers as of August. Even Hulu has almost 43 million subscribers, calling into question whether Apple TV+ is even competitive.