Apple TV+ is about to drop a slew of new prestige TV series on us, including one that cost almost $300 million. That’s a lot of money for a streamer that relatively few people are watching, no?
Apple’s pricey new release comes from Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, who’ve brought Masters of the Air — the third series in their World War II trilogy, which also includes HBO’s Band of Brothers and The Pacific — to Apple’s streamer. Under the direction of Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, the iPhone maker’s streamer has also teed up a flurry of additional projects that will no doubt make critics swoon, including one about fashion icons Coco Chanel and Christian Dior, with Ben Mendelsohn starring as the latter.
Among other imminent Apple releases, we’re also getting Manhunt, a thriller about the hunt for President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin; Palm Royale, a star-studded comedy about socialites; as well as Constellation, a conspiracy-based adventure set in space. Shows like these are unbelievably expensive to make, gorgeous to look at, and tend to draw fawning press coverage — the end result of which is that subscribers are convinced to keep paying $9.99/month for Apple TV+. That’s the idea, at any rate.
But how long can this go on? That’s the question that Matt Belloni — a former editor of The Hollywood Reporter who now writes for Puck News — thinks that 2024 will likely go a long way toward answering for Apple. “How long can this continue? Forever, of course, given Apple’s deep pockets,” Belloni writes in his latest newsletter. “After all, revenue from its ‘services’ unit that includes Apple TV+ has grown (though that growth is mostly from its App Store and iCloud features).
“But Apple will likely need to pick a lane soon on originals: Either ramp up the volume and/or buy or license a library of content to compete for real … or pull way back on scripted content, focus instead on high-value live sports or, potentially, even throw in the towel on the Hollywood experiment entirely. Long-term, sky-high content costs and low subscribers/engagement isn’t the answer.”
For the sake of the streaming TV landscape, I hope he’s wrong. Yes, I understand that Apple was watched by less than 1 percent of connected TV viewers in November, according to the most recent Nielsen Gauge report. But let’s try to keep some perspective here. Apple TV+ will be five years old this year. Netflix debuted House of Cards, its first stab at original programming, 15 years after the streamer’s launch in 1998.
I write these words as a happy subscriber to Apple TV+ (in addition to being subscribed to most of the other major streamers). Can we all agree that a world where Netflix wins, and every smaller streamer either gobbles up rivals or just gets out of the game entirely, is not a very interesting one? Apple, for better or worse, has brought a lot of interesting content to our TVs, iPhones, and iPads. Check out the link below for some of the best Apple TV+ shows to watch right now — and, who knows, Jason Sudeikis is reportedly seriously missing his Ted Lasso character, so maybe the long-hoped-for Season 4 or spinoff series becomes a reality soon.