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Week In Review: Apple TV+ Will Be Just $4.99, Roku Goes To Europe

1. Apple TV+ Will Be Just $4.99

So despite numerous rumors to the contrary, Apple will launch its Apple TV+ service for just $4.99/month. The new service will have eight—count ‘em, eight—shows when it launches on November 1st, close to two weeks ahead of Disney+’s November 12th launch date. 

People who buy a new Apple product of any sort also get a one year free trial, which is a decent enough marketing ploy.

Why It Matters

There’s no library content. 

Nothing to keep people hanging on after they watch the one or two shows they may want to watch. 

According to TV Guide (yes, they still exist!) “At launch, most series will debut on the service with three episodes, and then new episodes will roll out with each passing week. However, in some cases, full seasons will be available to stream from the get-go.”

There are two schools of thought on the matter. 

On the one hand, not having library content is a foolish move because there’s nothing to keep people in place, no “well, at least I can watch X until the next season of Y comes back” justification the way there is with say HBO Now and all the movies they have on tap.

On the other hand, there’s the school that says it’s just five dollars a month and people will either forget that they’ve subscribed or figure it’s not worth the hassle to unsubscribe, given that there’s likely something coming up eventually they’ll want to watch.

(Call that the ESPN+ theory.)

We’re thinking that the latter is a fine theory for now, but that once you’ve got all eight Flixes up and running, people are going to forget about Apple unless they have some really amazing shows that people feel the need to watch immediately.

Which is all it really comes down to for all the Flixes: how good are the programs? How badly do you want to watch them?

(Good UX and not crashing all the time will help too, but mostly it’s going to be about the shows.)

It’s also likely that Apple is going to bundle their various services—Apple Music, Apple Arcade, Apple TV Plus and iCloud storage into some sort of Super Apple Plus service—keep an eye out for that happening some time soon.

What You Need To Do About It

Ignore most of the online discussion you see about this. Apple Stans are like Bieber or One Direction “Larry” Stans and completely irrational in their need to defend everything Apple does as brilliant and attack anyone who dares suggest otherwise.

So there’s that.

If you’re Apple, just buy Tubi or Xumo or even Starz. It’s not like you don’t have the money.

That, and don’t overestimate the appeal of Apple Music or Apple Arcade beyond your stanbase (see what we did there.) A bundle might be a hard sell.

And if you’re on Wall Street, stop confusing Apple TV+ and Roku.

Or better, yet, just read this.

2. Roku Goes To Europe

European TV executives and analysts are always confounded when Americans start taking about Roku because The Little Streaming Stick That Could really hasn’t been much of a presence outside these shores.

That’s about to change now that Roku has struck a deal with Hisense that will have them making Roku TVs for the European market, which will also likely mean more sticks for sale too. 

Why It Matters

A certain Seattle-based company was also at the IFC show in Berlin making its own announcements about Europe.

Amazon Fire TV will be powering some Grundig and JVC models in Europe and the company is rolling out a Fire TV cube for the German and UK markets as well. 

Europeans know Amazon, the company has had a sizable presence there for years. 

Roku, OTOH, is an American newcomer, and while the Roku OS is admittedly a lot nicer looking and easier to use, the ultimate decision is likely to come down to screen size and features for the price.

There’s also the fact that in the U.S., one of Roku’s big advantages has been that they have more available app options than anyone else, an advantage they’re unlikely to be able to recreate in Europe.

And finally, there’s the issue of targeted advertising in the time of GDPR, something that may affect both companies ability to monetize their European assets.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re Apple and Google, it’s one more market your streaming TV OS is about to become irrelevant in. Either deal with it or fix it.

If you’re a European Flix, FAST or other app, you’ll probably want to be on both OS’s, since they each have their own distinct advantages and will each likely have their own fans.

If you’re Roku, you might want to really double down on marketing and getting a clear message out there, since this is your one chance to be big in Europe.

If you’re Amazon, don’t take the scrappy little guys for granted. They’ve already beaten off two of the four largest tech companies in the world.

And if you’re a European consumer, well, we’re still big fans of those $29 (€29?) sticks. Like those laptops they keep telling you can be updated forever, a TV OS can get outdated in a hurry, but a cheap streaming stick can be easily replaced. (Though given the absurdly low prices of TVs these days, maybe that’s no longer an issue.)

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