Poll finds Apple TV Plus lagging behind Disney Plus in adoption

(Photo courtesy The Walt Disney Company)

Apple’s much-anticipated streaming service is not living up to the hype compared to the upstart service rolled out by Disney around the same time last year and forthcoming services from Comcast and AT&T, according to a report.

On Monday, the trade publication Broadcasting & Cable cited a new HarrisX report that showed only 5 percent of American households subscribed to Apple TV Plus compared to 23 percent of homes that had sampled Disney Plus in the last few weeks of 2019.

Broadcasting & Cable suspected a lack of compelling original programming offered by Apple TV Plus is the biggest reason for it lagging behind fresh competitors. The streaming service’s breakout hit, “The Morning Show,” nabbed some award nominations but otherwise generated mixed reviews despite its blockbuster cast of A-list celebrities.

Disney Plus, on the other hand, generated a significant amount of buzz in large part due to the company’s offering of legacy Disney movies and TV shows mixed with original Disney Plus programming like “Star Wars: The Mandalorian,” which generated positive reviews and drew a cult-like following thanks to the viral sensation that is the “Baby Yoda” character.

Overlooked by Broadcasting & Cable and other industry news outlets: Both Apple and Disney offer their service to free, but to very different audiences. Apple TV Plus is free for a year to any customer who purchases an eligible Apple device, while Disney Plus is free to tens of millions of Verizon Wireless customers.

Disney’s pool of potential customers taking advantage of its partnership with Verizon Wireless mixed with its robust library — which includes content from Fox Studios, acquired by Disney early last year — makes it a more-attractive service compared to Apple, which is only free if customer plunk down at least $149 for the cheapest eligible device (an Apple TV).

Apple, which doesn’t license content beyond its own studio, is finding out the hard way that a company can’t just offer something for “free” to users and expect them to stick around unless the content is compelling to a broad spectrum of people.