Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) will launch a streaming video service today. The company believes that its brand and installed base of over a billion devices will allow it to successfully step into one of the most crowded segments of the media market. Apple will find eight big competitors already there. Most of these services charge between $9.99 a month and $12.99 a month.
1. The toughest competitor is Netflix because of its size, its relationships with Hollywood and an original programming business that has produced some of the most popular and critically acclaimed shows of the past decade. Netflix has 139 million subscribers worldwide. It carries content from large cable programmers, including HBO. Original shows already number in the hundreds, and Netflix plans to spend billions to expand this.
2. Amazon Prime has over 100 members worldwide. Its streaming video offering is part of a suite of products and services. These also include free shipping, free storage of photos and a deal on a number of products sold by Amazon.
3. Hulu is owned by Walt Disney, AT&T and Comcast, three of the largest entertainment companies in the world. Its streaming media business has been in the market since 2007. Hulu carries content from the CW, CBS, Showtime and the BBC, among others. It will soon have a live streaming business that includes CBS News. Like Amazon and Netflix, is also produces original content.
4. HBO Go is the streaming version of HBO, which allows subscribers to use all their devices to watch HBO programs. This includes smartphones, game consoles and digital media players. Its parent, Warner Media, has dumped its part of its TV Everywhere products.
5. Movie service Starz has a product that has the same features as HBO Go. It is part of the industry’s efforts to capture “cord cutters,” which are people who have canceled their cable subscriptions and watch video via their broadband connections.
6. Showtime has a service that competes directly with HBO and Starz. It markets its service through the Optimum broadband services, which give it a potential pool of millions of customers. It is also marketing via CBS’s streaming video service.
7. DirecTV Now offers subscribers the country’s largest satellite television service, with almost all the programs available on its regular service, which has been built up over a decade. It untethers programming from the need to have a DirecTV traditional subscription. However, it leverages the DirecTV subscriber base of 21 million as its primary sales conduit.
8. Disney+ will launch later this year. It will carry most of the movies Disney has produced. This includes all of its Star Wars and Marvel movies. New Disney movies will not run on Netflix as they have for years. Disney considers Netflix the primary competition for Disney+.
Apple will compete against some of the most famous brands in streaming media, and the broader media world in general. Companies that include Netflix and Amazon have their own studios and plan to spend billions of dollars on their own content. Apple has its brand, and the chance to market its service to a huge, global installed base of iPhones and Macs. That may not be nearly enough.