What Is Apple’s TV Plus Strategy?

Why the one-year free trial is key to the service’s success

Mike Raab
Published in
6 min readSep 11, 2019


Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

AAfter more than two years of investment and preparation, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed the final details about the company’s upcoming Apple TV Plus subscription video-on-demand service at the company’s special event on Tuesday. Cook opened the segment proclaiming, “Our mission for Apple TV Plus is to bring you the best original stories from the most creative minds in television and film.”

That is a bold statement in the era of “Peak TV,” or the “streaming wars,” when tech and media companies are spending billions of dollars to produce exclusive original content in hopes of luring millions of paying subscribers. Now that we know the details of Apple TV Plus, it’s clear that the company has a very different strategy than its competitors in the video space. Here is what we learned at Apple’s event:

Launch date: November 1, 2019.

Price: $4.99 per month.

Devices: Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV), web, Amazon Fire TV, select Samsung smart TVs, LG, Roku, Sony, and VIZIO platforms.

Promotion: One-year free trial with the purchase of a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod Touch, or Mac.

After announcing the $4.99 monthly subscription fee, Cook exclaimed, “All of these originals for the price of one movie rental. That’s crazy!” Of course, this statement lacks the competitive context of Apple TV Plus launching into an increasingly crowded and disaggregated market, and is somewhat akin to promoting Apple Music as “All of this music for the price of one vinyl record!

While $4.99 will be one of the most inexpensive premium video subscriptions in the market, below even Hulu and CBS All Access’ $5.99 ad-subsidized plans, Apple TV Plus will also have only a fraction of the volume of content. Cook seemed to allude that Apple TV Plus would launch with somewhere around 12 originals series and movies on November 1, but that the catalog would continue to grow at a significant pace.

According to JustWatch, a website that scrapes and catalogs the content available on major streaming services, Apple TV Plus’ catalog of somewhere between 12–38 TV series and movies at launch would be by…