Apple TV+ Isn’t a Streaming Competitor – It’s an Add-on

With today’s launch of Disney+ the tech blog world is alight with comparisons to that other streaming service that launched this month, Apple TV+. Not content with simply having access to another library of content to enjoy, Apple TV+ is being tossed into cage match after cage match – first against stalwarts like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, and now against Disney+.

Apple TV+ versus Disney+ compared – the streaming wars escalate,” reads a headline on appleinsider. The lede? “The next phase of the streaming wars is upon us. On November 12, Disney+ launched with an overwhelming catalog of content. Here’s how it stacks up to Apple TV+.”

Apple is, obviously, quaking in their trillion dollar boots. Do you know how concerned they are?

The latest App Store email subject reads as follows: “Be the first to stream Disney+…right now!” I don’t want to get too crazy here but it’s almost like Apple sent out an email to its App Store subscriber list and told everyone about Disney+!

Wait – that’s exactly what happened. Here’s why.

Apple TV+ is not a fighter in the “streaming wars.” Apple TV+ wasn’t launched to get anyone to drop their Netflix subscription or unsubscribe from Hulu or force a choice between it and Disney+. How could it be? At launch, the service only offers original programming from Apple’s own studio. And regardless of how good it is (audience approval currently sits at an average of about 90% across the four main titles) it can’t hold a candle to the one-two punches of partnered content plus original content offered by Netflix or anyone else in this arena.

But it doesn’t have to, and Apple knows that – it would just be really nice if the rest of the world could also figure it out. For those that are deep into the Apple ecosystem, Apple TV+ is just another service like News+ or Arcade. It is a value-add that only serves to make the ecosystem that much nicer. If you want to see what they’ve produced, you subscribe (assuming you don’t have it free for a year like most). If you don’t find any value in it, then skip it.

There is nothing lost or gained in either direction – especially at the non-trial rate of five whole dollars a month. Like the Mac and computers, the iPod and music, the iPhone and mobile communication…even the Apple Card and personal finance, Apple has simply taken entertainment and video content and given it its own touch.

“Wars” generally have victors. They usually come with winners at the expense of the losers. Apple TV+ could lose 70% of its subscribers tomorrow, disappear, and Apple would still be a trillion-dollar company. If Netflix lost 70% of its customers, Netflix would cease to exist.

If anything, Disney+ exists in the gray area between Netflix/Hulu and Apple TV+. Its library is vast, but it is also exclusive – it just owns more properties, and those properties are big. After its own content combined with Marvel, Star Wars, and Fox, everything else is just icing on a delicious, mouse head-shaped cake. The move to pull it all under one paywalled garden might have pissed off the consumer world, but the business move was brilliant. And at just two dollars more per month than Apple TV+, it will be a fantastic add-on to any folder full of icons for our streaming services of choice. But, just like Apple TV+, it’s not going to replace Netflix for anyone. Or Hulu. Or Amazon Prime Video. It’s just another option. And if it fails (doubtful), Disney will keep chugging along.

So let’s cut the drama, stop trying to force competition where there really isn’t any, grab a beverage and a snack, and just enjoy whatever content we want on whatever service we want. There’s certainly no shortage.

Beside, the real war is between the streaming services and the cable companies. And the more we focus on pitting the streaming services against one another rather than realizing that we now have the greatest al la carte collection of content available to us we’ve ever had, the happier the cable execs are to sit back and watch.