Apple has its eye on MGM
While bundling Apple TV+ at no additional cost with new devices is central to the group's TV and hardware strategy, with only 45 hours of premium, original programming (Nov 2019), the stand-alone $4.99 a month price for the streaming service make it currently the most expensive in the US on a cost-per-hour basis. Other similarly priced services, such as Acorn TV ($4.99), CBS All Access ($5.99), BritBox ($6.99) and Disney+ ($6.99) all offer over 3,000 hours of content.
Apple has reportedly been in talks with MGM in a bid to acquire content to bolster the Apple TV+ catalogue, which will be particularly important when its free trial periods start to elapse for early adopters. MGM owns the rights in the US to popular franchises such as James Bond, Rocky, Robocop and long-running sci-fi show Stargate SG-1. Franchises are particularly important for global streaming services because they provide the opportunity to create spin-off shows.
On a subscription cost per hour basis, the three major services, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu offer the best value for money. Amazon Prime Video has 63,500 hours of content for a monthly price at only $12.99, although much of this is made up of a long tail or lower value content. Hulu, whilst offering a smaller number of titles than Netflix (5,437 to Netflix’s 7,239), has a strong focus on TV series, with a large number of long running shows, resulting in more content hours.
Upcoming service HBO Max is targeting a launch catalogue of 10,000 hours of content and NBCUniversal's Peacock is aiming for 15,000 hours. HBO Max will offer double the content currently available through HBO Go, for the same price of $14.99 per month. The high-quality HBO titles will sit alongside additional Warner Brothers content, including a library of hit blockbusters (such as A Star is Born) and series (such as Friends and Pretty Little Liars). Peacock, which is expected to offer an ad-free premium subscription tier for $10.00 a month, alongside an ad-supported version for $5.00 a month, will be the fourth largest service in the US. With competition hotting up and catalogue size a differentiating factor, an acquisition strategy for Apple looks increasingly likely.