Apple will have to start charging for Apple TV+ eventually, but when?

Tim Cook Apple TV+
Tim Cook Apple TV+ (Image credit: Apple)

A new report claims that 62% of Apple TV+ users aren't paying for the service and 29% won't when they're told they need to. That obviously presents Apple with a problem – because despite what its financial results might suggest, money doesn't grow on trees.

And Apple Originals cost a lot of money to make. At some point, Apple needs to start to recoup some of its expenses.

Apple clearly knows that it has a problem here. It recently extended the Apple TV+ trials until July in an attempt to get as much content onto the streaming service as possible before it starts charging more people for a service they've already said they won't pay for. Apple seems to be hoping to have people hooked on Apple TV+ content by the time the bills start rolling in.

To some extent, it might be succeeding. Recent numbers suggest that the second season of Servant is twice as popular as the first. With the second season of For All Mankind around the corner, we could see something similar there, too. Apple needs people to be hooked on these kinds of shows just enough to pay up for a season three and four.

Making the comparison even more advantageous, Apple TV+ released three episodes at launch for Season 1 in November 2019 vs. only one last week; meaning that the viewing of the Season 2 premiere episode during its first week more than doubled that for the first three episodes from Season 1 combined during post-launch week.

But Apple has a long, long way to go before it can compete with the like of Netflix and Disney in terms of the sheer volume of content available to paying customers. Apple TV+ is growing constantly and more shows are being announced seemingly weekly at this point. But is it enough?

A big issue for Apple TV Plus is its very limited content lineup, compared with the thousands of titles available on other SVOD services. Currently, Apple TV Plus offers a total of 55 originals (11 drama series, six comedy series, 13 nonfiction series, 11 films and 14 family series and specials). Those include breakouts like "The Morning Show" and "Ted Lasso," but in terms of sheer tonnage, Apple TV Plus is far below the rest of the SVOD field.

It's more than enough if you can watch Apple TV+ for free. But when you're paying?

29% of people seem to suggest not. For now, at least.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.