Apple TV+ might not be the most booming new streaming service on the block, but we may have underestimated it. Estimates from Ampere Analysis indicate the streamer ended 2019 with 33.6 million users, and a new report from Statista estimates that number reached 40 million by the end of 2020. Apple doesn’t give away subscriber data, so these numbers are still just estimates by professionals.
However, Apple TV+ gained a large portion of those subscribers from free trial offers it extended with various device purchases. Apple gave away free one-year trials like candy to customers who bought iPhones, Macbooks, and even T-Mobile TVision customers. According to MoffettNathan’s Q4 2020 SVOD Tracker report, 62% of Apple TV+ subscribers were still utilizing the free trial at the time of the survey. What’s more, 29% of those users said they don’t plan on renewing their subscription after their free trial ended. Only 30% planned to keep their subscription for $4.99/ month, and the rest said they’re unsure if they would become a paying customer.
Apple recently extended the free trial offer, saying any Apple TV+ subscription set to expire between now and June will now be extended to July 2021. Apple has already extended the free trial period once, back in October. At that time, the trial was extended through February 2021. Back then, Apple announced that it would reimburse customers who were already paying for the service, in form of credits.
Now that July is fast approaching, it will be interesting to see what that trial expiration date does to the streamer’s subscriber count. It’s likely to see a drastic downward plunge after customers have to start paying a monthly subscription, even though it’s only $4.99/month.
Apple’s streaming service launched November 1, 2019, around the same time as Disney+, but their success stories couldn’t be more polarizing. Disney+ launched in the US on November 12, 2019 and quickly built a large subscriber base, reaching 94.9 million subscribers since the end of 2020, and most recently surpassing 100 million subscribers.
But comparing any streaming service to Disney+’s fairytale story is almost unfair since it’s an exception and not the rule.