Apple’s big product event today was all about iPhones, iPads, and the latest generation of its smartwatch — but make no mistake, it also underscored Apple’s increasingly aggressive push to dominate streaming.
Apple wasted no time on Tuesday showcasing its quickly expanding and award-winning roster of originals on Apple TV Plus, with Apple boss Tim Cook kicking off the “California Streaming” event with a highlight reel of fall premieres and soon-to-debut titles. Cook gave a nod to the more than 130 wins and 500-plus award nominations for the service’s original films and series since launching in 2019, taking time to specifically herald the success of critical darling Ted Lasso, which recently swooped up a record-breaking 20 Emmy nominations. (Apple TV Plus had 35 total nominations for all of its titles, which is fairly impressive for a service that’s less than two years old.)
For a hardware event that didn’t have too much to share beyond what’s coming to Apple TV Plus in the near future, much of which has already been made public, Apple’s decision to spend a significant chunk of time highlighting its forthcoming roster of content proved once again that it’s serious about growing its streaming service. And Apple is reportedly prepared to swing even bigger as it continues to expand its franchises and originals.
Citing a source familiar with the matter, The Information reported last week that the company “intends to significantly up its output of new TV shows and movies to at least one a week.” To promote its titles, Apple could spend more than $500 million on marketing the service, The Information reported, citing a separate source.
Apple’s not just expanding its library, either. The company is launching new ways for its users to stream content from devices within its ecosystem, with SharePlay among the most exciting of these features coming to Apple devices with iOS 15 — though it won’t debut with the initial rollout but instead in a future update. Even still, SharePlay, a watch party tool that allows Apple users to stream content from Apple as well as from other services together in real time, was teased throughout Tuesday’s product event.
And it looks like Apple’s been busy expanding this feature ahead of its official launch, too. When it was announced in June, under a dozen apps were said to have support for the tool, including Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, HBO Max, Hulu, MasterClass, Paramount Plus, Pluto TV, TikTok, and Twitch. That list had been expanded as of Tuesday’s launch, with Comedy Central, Showtime, Spotify, Starz, and more appearing in a slide about SharePlay partners for video and music streaming. Presumably, this list will continue to grow ahead of the feature’s official debut. Apple told The Verge in June that SharePlay is available to any streaming partner who wants to support it.
Despite all of its award accolades, Apple still has several hurdles it’ll have to navigate if it hopes to take on streaming kings like Netflix and Disney. Its library needs to get bigger, and fast, if it hopes to hang on to subscribers once their free trials have run out. It will also have to figure out a way to drum up more fanfare for its series to get viewers excited about them before they debut on the service (both things that it sounds like Apple is already working on). In many ways, the kind of hype we saw during today’s event is necessary to propel the service forward.
But if Cook’s enthusiastic praise of Apple’s to-date originals is any indication, Apple is only just getting started. And the company’s deep pockets and software integrations geared at making streaming accessible more than prove it.