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Some analysts think Apple’s Netflix rival will top 100M subscribers within a few years

Published Mar 12th, 2019 8:08PM EDT
Apple streaming TV service
Image: Arcansel / Shutterstock

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At this point, there are still tons of unknowns surrounding the streaming video service Apple is reportedly going to unveil at an event March 25, during which we will hopefully get to see, among other things, the first actual clips from shows that will be part of Apple’s forthcoming Netflix rival.

The event, which is set for 10 a.m. local time at the Steve Jobs Theater, is momentous for a few reasons. There’s the announcement itself, which will take the iPhone maker into territory dominated by rivals like Netflix and HBO — streaming giants that have been at this for a long time and know better than anyone how difficult it is to pick creators and shows that generate buzz, viewership and the prestige that creatives team in any field covet.

The forthcoming event will also be the first time Apple has used the venue for something other than an iPhone announcement.

“It’s show time,” Apple’s official media announcement for the event declares, and two analysts for the investment firm Wedbush certainly think that’s the case for multiple reasons. For starters, based on a new commentary about Apple’s plans that the analysts distributed to clients today, 100 million subscribers for Apple’s forthcoming Netflix rival appears to be a “realistic medium-term goal,” the note reads.

“If Apple executes with minimal speed bumps and aggressively acquires content given the company’s massive installed base and unmatched brand loyalty,” the analysts write, then reaching 100 million subs for this new service in the 3-to-5-year timeframe seems a realistic target. One that could add as much as $10 billion in additional revenue to Apple’s coffers — and serve as one more Apple product that keeps customers tied in to the company’s ecosystem.

The note is one more indication that a much-anticipated reveal of what Apple has been working toward in terms of original shows is what attendees March 25 will most be looking forward to. We may also get a sense of Apple’s rumored Apple News-related subscription offering around things like newspapers and magazines, assuming the company has been able to smooth over disagreements with publishers that have apparently threatened to delay that announcement.

The streaming TV service, though, is the big gamble — an attempt to try something much more difficult than it looks and which is also generating competition at an exponential rate these days. Disney, AT&T, NBC and so many other deep-pocketed brands are likewise jumping into the crowded streaming waters. There’s a legitimate question about how much quality content can actually exist out there, and how much subscribers will want to sign up to pay for, which makes offerings like Apple’s all the more risky — and potentially lucrative if the company is able to successfully pull this off.

Interestingly, the Wedbush note paints Apple’s March 25 announcement as merely “the drumroll” to something much bigger — a major “transformative” content acquisition sometime this year that immediately vaults Apple into the top tier of contenders in the streaming arm’s race.

“We (and many others) are finally getting what we hoped for and predicted as the company is set to announce its inaugural streaming video content service that will be a linchpin in further expanding its services wings into areas such as video content and potentially gaming over the next decade,” the note reads.

The new streaming service will likely launch this fall, the note continues, “and will include a host of content partners (e.g. HBO remains the biggest X variable) as well as original content from Apple with the company currently in production deals with Oprah, Reese Witherspoon/Jennifer Aniston, Steven Spielberg, and a handful of other projects as the company is spending roughly $1 billion on original content this year.” Of course, companies like Amazon and Netflix are spending much more than that on content through the end of the year, which is why the Wedbush analysts think “the clock has struck midnight for Cupertino” to executive a major content acquisition of some sort. And to do it this year, with possible M&A deals including team-ups with studios like a24, Lionsgate, Sony and even Netflix.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.