Nolte: Disney and Apple Streaming Services Combined Are Cheaper than Netflix

ROME, ITALY - APRIL 18: Reed Hastings attends Reed Hastings panel during Netflix 'See What's Next' event at Villa Miani on April 18, 2018 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Ernesto S. Ruscio/Getty Images for Netflix)
Ernesto S. Ruscio/Getty Images for Netflix

Disney and Apple will launch their new streaming TV services in November, and the combined subscription price for both is cheaper than Netflix.

Apple TV+ just announced its November 1 launch date and a $4.99 per month subscription fee that allows six people at once to use the account. What’s more, if you purchase an Apple product —  a new iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac computer, or Apple TV, it will come with a free year of Apple TV+.

A handful of original programs are all ready to go on November 1, including a dystopian thriller starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard, a television news drama with Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, something-something with Oprah, and some children’s programming.

There’s no word (I can find) on additional movies or shows, non-originals like, say, reruns of Law & Order or King of the Hill — you know, the kind of filler that might not be new but still adds value — that comfort TV we all retreat to every once in a while. If all Apple TV+ is going to be is original programming, including only its own movies, this service will be even narrower than HBO’s streaming service, HBO Now, which at least offers all kinds of movies from outside those produced by HBO.

Of course, HBO Now is a pretty pricey $14.99 a month.

So at $4.99 a month, if you enjoy even one or two of those Apple TV+ shows, that’s a pretty good price. But as of now, Apple TV+ sounds like a boutique service.

Disney+ launches 11 days after Apple, on November 12, for just $6.99 a month. If you pay a year in advance ($69.99) that price drops to just $5.83 per month.

With its 20th Century Fox, Marvel, Star Wars, Disney, Pixar, and National Geographic brands, Disney+ is promising “thousands of movies and series,” including all 30 seasons of The Simpsons.

For the sake of comparison, Disney will have some 500 movies from its own library and 7,000 Disney TV episodes. In 2016, Netflix had 1,197 TV series (not episodes) and nearly 4,500 movies.

I think we can all agree, though, that quantity does not always equal quality. Anyone who subscribes to Netflix knows what it feels like to scroll and scroll and scroll through thousands of choices without finding something to watch, which is not to say that won’t happen with Apple and Disney. But…

At five and seven dollars each, Apple TV+ and Disney+ combined offer something brand new for only $12 per month, compared to Netflix, which now costs $13 a month.

Yes, there is a cheaper $9 Netflix plan, but only one person can watch at a time, and you get nothing in high definition.

A big part of Netflix’s pitch for its streaming service used to be the price point, but those days are over, which is not to say $13 is too much. I have Netflix, and it still feels like a reasonable deal, but it used to feel like a great deal, like you were practically stealing.

Since Disney and Apple announced their aggressive moves into streaming, Netflix’s stock has taken a serious hit – from a $381 share price on July 10 to just $286 today. Last quarter was the first since 2011 where Netflix lost subscribers – some 130,000, which can be blamed on three things: 1) the price increase, 2) people ready to move to streaming but waiting to see what Disney has to offer, and 3) Netflix clogged with a lot of crap programming that can be overwhelming to the point of frustration.

Generally, I avoid the prediction business, but if you will allow me a moment of immodesty, I have been 100 percent correct about the future of television streaming for nearly a decade, back when people were laughing at the very idea of Netflix and streaming itself being a threat to the cable industry.

Anyway, here’s what I see… and it is all good news for consumers…

The launch of all these streaming outlets, most especially Disney+ and the upcoming AT&T/Warner Media service, will only accelerate the death of cable TV. Like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, they represent an attempt to capture a broad audience, the cable TV audience.

If people can find enough to watch and find it cheaper via streaming, that is where they’re headed. It’s called human nature. This is already happening, has been for years, and more choices will only accelerate the end of cable TV.

And this is very bad news *tee-hee* for low-rated cable networks like CNN and MTV, these left-wing channels propped up by your overpriced cable bill, these affirmative action babies that will never survive on their own.

Something else that’s going to happen that was not possible with the corrupt monopoly that is cable TV is that you are going to see people jump from one streaming service to another. For example, they will subscribe to Netflix for three months, gobble up all that content, and then jump to Disney+ for a couple of months, and so on…

Because of the obnoxious cancellation fees that made this impossible with cable — for instance, you could not jump from HBO to Showtime to Starz without paying a fine — unless these streaming services institute these fines, people are going to jump around. Why pay for five streaming services all at one time when you can jump around, save a fortune, and still watch everything?

My guess is that Netflix and the others will respond with a yearly membership fee like the one Disney+ offers, where you save money by promising to hang around for 12 months.

Obviously, over time, Disney+ and Apple TV+ and the others will eventually increase their prices, but this will be much more difficult in a world where people have alternatives. There simply is no alternative with cable and satellite TV, which is why we are paying $110 a month for 500 channels we never watch.

Streaming is a total win-win for the consumer, and one that will hopefully put CNN where it belongs — out of business forever.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.


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