Apple's new television offering has two parts: One, called Apple TV channels, is an aggregation of cable networks such as Starz, CBS All Access, Comedy Central, Showtime and HBO. The other is Apple TV+, Apple's home for original and exclusive content from creators like Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and a host of other Hollywood talent. Apple shares were down 1.03% on Tuesday, and Netflix's were down 1.71%.
There are still a lot of unknowns: Notably, what Apple's new television services will cost -- and whether they can meaningfully compete with Netflix.
The two companies have increasingly looked more like frenemies than partners. Chafed by Apple's 30% cut of App Store transactions, Netflix started requiring new users to make payments through its own site last year. And a few days ahead of Apple's Monday event, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings confirmed in an interview what many had suspected: Netflix won't be a part of Apple's streaming services. Internally, Apple has referred to its TV services as a "Netflix killer" according to reports.
Netflix has a head start of several years in selling high-quality original content, and is the dominant player in video streaming. Apple's advantage, meanwhile, is its installed base of 1.4 billion devices including 900 million iPhones -- a potential captive audience for its lineup of new services, including television.
In a note on following the Apple event, Needham analyst Laura Martin argued that Apple's "captive users" mean lower customer acquisition costs -- and a big competitive advantage over time.
"Netflix has an inferior competitive position to Apple over time, as we see it, in both customer acquisition costs and content costs," Martin wrote. "Content costs are lowered by the fact that Apple is creating a storefront service and will get a rev share of subscriptions sold to HBO, Showtime, etc. This will be aided by premium original content with the biggest stars in Hollywood, if today was any indication."
Of course, pricing is one of the key questions around where Apple's video services will fit in to the crowded streaming landscape. Another is exactly what content will be available at launch.
There are varying predictions on both counts: Wedbush's Dan Ives forecasted that Apple will undercut Netflix's pricing by $1 to $2, and also speculated that Apple may buy up a major studio or other content player to flesh out its library of exclusive content before launch. Martin suggested that Apple may price both its TV and games offerings at $10, the same price as its Apple News+ subscription service.
Per Sjöfors, founder at Atenga Insights and a pricing expert, speculated that -- at least based on what we know now of Apple's catalog of original content -- Apple may have to charge less than Netflix does by a good margin.
"When it comes to TV, the big question is: What content? Are they only going to include their own content or third-party content?" Sjöfors said. "If they only do their own content, I don't think they will be able to charge much at all, maybe $5 to $10...solely because when they launch, they will have a very short catalog of content."
Despite the high-wattage star power at Apple's services unveiling, the sum total of the content available to TV+ subscribers may not be known until closer to its launch this fall. And certainly, not everyone is feeling optimistic about Apple's competitive position vs. Netflix.
JP Morgan analyst Samik Chatterjee lamented the lack of transparency on Apple's TV pricing in a note Tuesday, and suggested that Apple's content aggregation strategy may not be a compelling enough value proposition for users.
"Although Apple indicated it would disclose pricing for the TV+ video subscription later, we believe Apple might be challenged in monetizing its own original content with users, given its limited scope relative to large content providers like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO," he warned.