Streaming TV services have evolved, by design and content, to appeal to certain segments of the viewer marketplace. Except, it seems, Apple. Apple’s target TV market seems vague.
Apple’s Target TV Market
Apple’s original charter for TV+ was high-quality, potentially award winning, original content story telling. That’s a laudable goal, but just exactly how does that philosophy guarantee success? In other words, how does that specific doctrine maximize subscriptions in practice?
For example, content that appeals to American male adults would have a potential audience of about 100 million. But content that appeals to women Ph.D astrophysicists who’ve won a Nobel prize would be, maybe, three. Somewhere in the middle is a suitable, candidate target audience.
At PCMAG, Ben Moore lists the top 10 current streaming services. (Apple TV+ isn’t one of them.) He characterizes each service with a “best for” label.
- BEST FOR MIX OF LIVE AND ON-DEMAND CONTENT – hulu
- BEST FOR FAMILIES – Disney+
- BEST FOR ON-DEMAND SHOWS AND MOVIES – prime video
- BEST FOR CBS SHOWS AND BROADCASTS – CBS All Access
- BEST FOR ORIGINAL SHOWS – Netflix
- BEST FOR REPLACING CABLE – YouTubeTV
and so on….
After digesting these categories, I am at a loss to identify where Apple fits in by virtue of its original content to date. It’s almost as if Apple executives had been fixated on the idea that “our content will be higher quality, in general, than the competition’s, so we’ll naturally thrive.”
Once a target market is identified, the service presents a motive to buy.
I’ll posit that quality alone is not the major factor in how a potential subscriber makes a purchase decision. What are the factors? Some come to mind.
- A blockbuster signature series
- Ease of use and finding content
- Wealth of content, original and legacy
- Access to a few special, beloved TV series or movies
Was Apple TV+ content designed to hit any of those hot buttons? Yes for #1 and #2. That’s about it because Apple hung its hat on original content only and failed (so far) to supplement with a back-catalog. Why? The competition is protecting its own libraries and is unlikely to license, let alone sell, a large portion on favorable terms to the competition, Apple.
Perhaps in time, the rest will follow. But for now, time is not on Apple’s side. HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock are coming online soon, and Apple TV+ might not be in the top six or seven viable services come pay-up time on November 2nd.
The only way out is for Apple to generate must-have content for a sufficiently large target demographic that ROI is guaranteed at the US$4.95 level. Figuring out what that sizable market is and how to appeal to it is what studio executives get paid to do.