Apple has quietly extended its free Apple TV+ subscription offer for a second time, to July 2021, a nice gift during the pandemic. Or, an implicit acknowledgment that it doesn’t have enough content to justify paying for the subscription yet.
Either way, the net result is the same: Apple TV+ costs $4.99 per month, allegedly, but it was originally free for one year for those who purchased a new iPhone in late 2019. Then, in October 2020, Apple extended the free subscription period through February 2020. Now, it has extended the free period through July 2021.
Apple has never discussed its Apple TV+ subscriber base, but it appears to be off to a very slow start. According to Nielsen, it is the slowest-growing of the major streaming video services, beating out only CBS Access and Peacock. Apple TV+ has about 11 percent usage share in the United States, behind Netflix (61 percent), Amazon Prime Video (47 percent), Hulu (36 percent), Disney+ (31 percent), and HBO Max (15 percent).
That Disney+ number is perhaps the most interesting, since that service was launched the same month as Apple TV+, but Disney+ already has almost three times the share of Apple TV+.
Worse, the gap between the rest of the industry Apple TV+ is even starker when you look at paying vs. non-paying customers: 60 percent of Apple TV+ subscribers aren’t even paying for the service, the highest rate, by far, among its competitors. By comparison, only 3 percent of Netflix and Prime Video subscribers are on a free promotion. HBO Max, with 26 percent, is the only service that even approaches Apple’s promotional subscriber base.