Before its subscription model and price tag were announced, early reports surrounding Apple TV+ suggested that Apple intended to distribute its film/tv content for free. The logic went - rather than competing directly against Netflix or HBO, Apple would instead use its premium content as a flashy incentive to bring people into a unified ecosystem akin to the cable bundle – one that was focused on selling those other SVODs but with Apple’s 30% fee. The costs of content assumedly became too hard for the tech conglomerate to swallow, however, and consumers were eventually met with another content service competing for their attention and wallet.
The announcement of an Apple TV+ / CBS All Access / Showtime bundle in late August, should thus be seen as a step back towards that initially rumored strategy. Similar discounts have been provided by other OTT marketplaces but a bundle with this level of players is a first and, crucially, signing up for the bundle will not require downloading separate apps. This is the first step towards phase 2 of the Streaming Wars. When the current pandemic induced inflation of subscriber numbers reverses, watch for the SVOD bundle to become the next strategy de jour– with only Netflix and the already established Disney+ / Hulu / ESPN+ bundle able to stay independent.