Apple TV+ Strategy Being Questioned

Leo Di Caprio and Lily Gladstone in Killers of the Flower Moon on Apple TV+

Ever since it launched, there have been discussions about the “originals only” approach of Apple TV+. It has chosen to spend money on (expensive) quality, not quantity. “Killers of the Flower Moon” is a perfect example of this. However, it does mean the service offers a limited content library.

That is all well and good if the investments pay off. But, with big spending productions like “Killers of the Flower Moon,” Napoleon” and “Argylle”, it is not entirely clear that is happening. Tatiana Siegel dived into the issue over on Variety:

Yet neither “Killers” nor “Napoleon” moved the needle as much as many industry observers expected. “Argylle,” with its $200 million price tag, is an unmitigated disaster. No studio is better poised to absorb colossal budgets than Apple. But even Wall Street is wondering if the studio’s reported $1 billion annual spend on films would have been better served by pumping up the volume of product rather than taking a few nine-figure swings.

Can Apple TV+ compete with key rivals pursuing this strategy?

“The quality of the films has been extremely impressive and has attracted significant demand for the Apple TV+ service,” says Wedbush Securities’ Dan Ives. “But the Achilles’ heel is not the quality. They just don’t have enough [product]. I think that’s been the tug of war with Apple: They’ve achieved high quality and won Oscars, yet they lack the library in this content arms race.”

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Apple TV+ Awards Are Great, but Maybe Not Enough

Interestingly, subscribers to the service are currently able to access a collection of 50 movies for a limited time. These are all licensed, not originals. The list includes “Spider-Man” both volumes of “Kill Bill” and more. (MacRumors has the full list.) I do wonder if this indicates at least a partial shift in strategy. The “Peanuts” movies are on Apple TV+, but this is by far the most significant move to boost the catalogue with non-original content since it launched in 2019.

Obviously, Tim Cook and co. will be delighted if they walk away with another bunch of prestigious Academy Awards. They have already claimed Best Picture for “Coda”, something Netflix execs would sell a limb for. That all matters. And, as the Variety article notes, it is not like Cupertino cannot absorb some short-term financial losses for longer-term gains. However, it cannot do that indefinitely. The movies and shows in the library have to make a real impact so Apple TV+ is not just the “Ted Lasso” streamer.

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