Batten down the hatches and ready your binge bunkers because the streaming wars are starting in earnest.
By November 15, two of the most profitable companies in America will have made their first forays into the streaming television space; with the launch of Apple TV+ and Disney+, the digital entertainment game may never be the same.
But don’t let the similar names fool you. The strategies used by the tech behemoth and the entertainment giant couldn’t be more different, given how each is sweet-talking subscribers with their wares. It’s only a matter of time before we discover which, if any, strategy proves to be the best way to build a customer base.
First into the ring is Apple TV+, debuting November 1 and priced at $4.99 per month, with plans to present eight original series upon launch, in addition to documentary film “The Elephant Queen.” That said, don’t expect to binge your way through Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon’s “The Morning Show,” Jason Momoa’s sci-fi “See,” or Ronald D. Moore’s space race show “For All Mankind,” while polishing off your Halloween candy. For some series, Apple is opting to do a slow roll-out, not unlike Hulu with “The Handmaid’s Tale,” in which consumers will have access to three episodes from the jump, with future episodes rolling out on a weekly basis.
Other shows, though, like Hailee Steinfeld-starring “Dickinson” will have all 10 episodes of its first season locked and loaded for the platform’s initial premiere date.
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Much has been speculated about Apple’s deep pockets with regard to its original programming, and it’s true that the company has sought out some of the most prestigious names in the business, including Oprah, Steven Spielberg, and JJ Abrams, in hopes of bringing legitimacy to their continued expansion into entertainment.
But for all its funding, there’s one glaring omission in the Apple TV+ model: A library.
Where streamers including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon all feature a back-catalog of shows that subscribers can delve into whenever the mood strikes, Apple TV+, at least for the foreseeable future, will have nothing of the sort.
In reality, it’s the exact opposite of the Disney+ strategy, where the audience will have the benefit of 80-some years of legacy content, just for Disney alone.
Launching November 12 at $6.99 per month, Disney+ leans heavily on its history of family-friendly entertainment, recently boasting about their extensive library in a truly massive Twitter thread involving hundreds of tweets, featuring past film and TV offerings from not just Disney proper, but 21st Century Fox, Pixar, Marvel, and NatGeo.
Though the streaming service has plenty of original programming in the works, their roll-out plans will come far less frequently and skew away from the binge model, as well. High-profile Star Wars series “The Mandalorian” and “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” will offer a single episode for viewing upon launch and plan to adhere to a weekly episode release thereafter.
These are but a few differences between the two streamers ready to upend the already overfull television market. For more in-depth coverage of the upcoming streampocalypse, check out IndieWire’s brand new television podcast “Millions of Screens,” where TV Awards Editor Libby Hill, TV Deputy Editor Ben Travers, and Creative Producer Leo Garcia delve deeper into the tricky business of streaming TV, in addition to their reactions to the season finale of “Succession” (aka “the only good show on television”) and the red carpet premieres of “Watchmen” and “For All Mankind.”
“Millions of Screens” is available on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and Anchor. You can subscribe here or via RSS. Share your feedback with the crew on Twitter or sound off in the comments. Review the show on iTunes and be sure to let us know if you’d like to hear the gang address specific issues in upcoming editions of “Millions of Screens.” Check out the rest of IndieWire’s podcasts on iTunes right here.
This episode of “Millions of Screens” was produced by Leonardo Adrian Garcia.