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Apple TV+ is buying older shows and movies to challenge Netflix

Published May 19th, 2020 9:02AM EDT
Apple TV+ library
Image: Tony Avelar/AP/Shutterstock

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  • Apple is reportedly buying the rights to older shows and movies to add to Apple TV+.
  • When Apple TV+ launched last fall, Apple said that it wasn’t looking to compete with Netflix or Hulu, but it appears that the strategy has changed in the intervening months.
  • Apple has already bought several shows and movies, but its focus will remain on originals.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

When Apple TV+ launched late last year, Apple made it clear that its goal was not to replace or directly compete with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or any of the other top streaming services, but rather to complement them with a lineup of star-studded original shows and movies like The Morning Show and The Banker. At just $4.99 a month, the price of a subscription was much lower than any of its would-be rivals, and anyone who bought a new iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or Apple TV could get a free year of the streaming service.

Apple’s approach was certainly unique, but less than a year later, it appears that the company might be ready to level the playing field by expanding its library to include third-party content. According to Bloomberg, Apple is acquiring old movies and TV shows to give the likes of Netflix and Disney+ a run for their money.

Apple executives are said to have begun taking pitches from Hollywood studios about licensing content for Apple TV+. Sources claim that some shows and movies have already been bought. While Apple will reportedly continue to focus heavily on original content, the strategy shift is notable, as there were few signs at launch that Apple TV+ would ever attempt to stand toe to toe with the biggest names in the industry. That said, rumors about Apple acquiring film studio MGM were floating around the internet back in January, though nothing ever came of them.

Apple has yet to buy the rights to any major TV or film franchises, according to the report, but the move does seem to be an admission of sorts that a boutique streaming service with an exceedingly small library — even one with colossal stars both behind and in front of the camera — won’t excel in this industry. Driving that point home, Bloomberg notes that Netflix has thousands of shows and movies on offer, while Apple TV+ currently has fewer than 30.

Bloomberg also reveals that more than 10 million people had signed up for Apple TV+ as of February 2020, but only half of those subscribers “actively use the service.” Plus, a significant percentage of them have yet to pay a penny for TV+, as they are still in the middle of their free trial year. And while 10 million users might sound impressive, Disney+ had 10 million users on day one, and Netflix added 16 million users in Q1 2020 alone.

Nevertheless, Apple has gone all-in on services, and Apple TV+ will be one of the company’s tentpoles in the years to come, even if the strategy continues to evolve until Apple finds its place in the market.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.