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With Apple's TV+ and Disney+, both of which launch in the first half of November, consumers will have two new places to stream original shows. TV+ and Disney+ are also two of the cheapest offerings, at least among the most widely-used services: At $6.99 per month, Disney+ is roughly half the cost of a standard Netflix subscription, and Apple's TV+ is just $4.99 per month plus a one-year free trial for customers who buy any iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod Touch or Mac.
In particular, Apple threw people for a loop when it announced pricing for the TV+ last week -- analysts had expected it to cost in the ballpark of $10 per month. Apple shares are up 2.8% since its Sept. 10 event, while Disney shares have gained 17% since its April reveal of Disney+.
In a way, the pricing of TV+ and Disney+ is a reversal of the narrative that the cost of streaming is creeping up towards the cost of a cable package.
According to Leichtman Research Group, the average cost of a pay TV subscription is about $107 per month today. By contrast, even if you subscribed to several streaming services such as Netflix, Alphabet's (GOOGL) - Get Report YouTube TV, ESPN+, Hulu, and Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report Prime Video, you'd still be paying less, excluding the cost of Internet service.
"Everyone is looking for value -- it doesn't matter where you are as far as your income," said Bruce Leichtman, president of Leichtman Research Group.
While many households are perfectly happy to spend $100 or more per month for entertainment, there are signs of a price ceiling for Netflix, the biggest incumbent in streaming TV. In its July earnings report, Netflix posted its first-ever net loss in U.S. subscribers, just a few months after it raised prices to $13 from $11 for its most popular standard plan.
With more choice and variety than ever in streaming services, analysts anticipate that the typical household will subscribe to between 2 and 4 services as a base, and swap some of them in and out based on the makeup of their household (parents might be particularly drawn to kid-friendly Disney+, for example), and what content is most compelling at the time.
In the near future, however, Apple TV+ will likely be in the streaming rotation for a decent chunk of Apple customers thanks to the low price point and Apple's aggressive marketing of the service.
While the content slate is far more limited than its competitors -- Apple has announced just a few dozen original shows for the service, to be rolled out over the coming months -- it's offering an entire year for free to anyone who buys select Apple devices.
That virtually guarantees at least few million people will give it a shot: In a recent note, Cowen analyst Krish Sankar estimated that TV+ could attract nine million subscribers by the end of this year, and 18 million by the end of 2020.
The year-long trial also buys Apple time to measure what's working and what isn't, and iterate on the service.
"In a year from now, the service is going to look very different, and we're going to know a lot more about the quality of the content," said Dan Rayburn, a principal analyst with Frost & Sullivan.
What's more, according to Rayburn, the monthly cost is low enough that even if subscribers are only interested in a couple of shows, many won't blink at staying on after the trial expires. Combined with Apple's sticky ecosystem and potential bundling options, Apple may be in a strong position long-term in the streaming realm.
"At $5 per month, I don't think it's that big of a deal -- does $5 really change your budget? That's a beer," Rayburn added. "Apple is doing something different."