Apple TV+ getting the streaming rights to old movies and shows isn't the smoking gun the service needs

Best Apple TV of 2021
Best Apple TV of 2021 (Image credit: iMore)

When Apple TV+ launched last year, the company made it clear that the service would be comprised of all original content. Apple was happy to bring out huge celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Jason Momoa, to talk about their new TV series that would be premiering on Apple TV+. Still, no back catalog was going to be available. Now that it's been six months since the launch of the streaming service, things might be changing.

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple is acquiring the rights to stream some older TV shows and movies to beef up the catalog to better compete with Hulu, Disney+, and Netflix. Unfortunately, I'm not sure buying old content is going to make Apple TV+ more appealing to enough people.

Licensing content is tricky

The great thing about Apple TV+ having only original content (especially brand-new content) is that it allowed Apple to launch its programming in every country that could access Apple TV+. Licensed content doesn't let you do that without some headaches.

Coming from a Canada, I can tell you it's frustrating when you hear Netflix acquired the license to stream an awesome show (like Parks and Rec) only to realize its geo-locked to the States. If Apple starts buying up a bunch of older content, it'll be a lot harder for them to offer the same access to everyone who uses the service.

On top of all that, most high-profile TV shows are highly sought after and cost a substantial amount of money. Netflix has famously kept the incredible comedy hit The Office in its grasp for years, often citing that it's one of the top streamed TV shows on the service, and at the end of this year, The Office is leaving Netflix because NBC plans on launching its own service. The streaming space is getting even more crowded, and networks are starting to realize how much money there is to be made with its old properties, meaning it's going to be even harder for Apple to be a player.

There is no magic fix for Apple TV+

Apple TV app on iPhone (Image credit: iMore)

The best thing that could happen for Apple is if they somehow produce a mega-hit show — think Game of Thrones level of fandom — that becomes part of popular culture. Of course, doing that is pretty damn hard and every other network and streaming service is trying to do the exact same thing.

Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet that will instantly make Apple TV+ an irresistible streaming service. There's just too much competition in the space for any simple solution, but that doesn't mean Apple TV+ is doomed.

I was harsh on the first few episodes of The Morning Show and See, but both of those shows grew into wonderful pieces of television and have me excited for their respective second seasons. If Apple can continue to make compelling and engaging original content, more people will come to the service to check it out.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.