June 30, 2021
In a subtle marketing move, Roku has released an updated remote control that features a button to connect directly with the Apple TV+ subscription streaming service. Though the partnership has been rumored for a few months, the June 30 image release by Roku of the updated remote confirms the scuttlebutt.
While neither company issued comments on the situation, the Apple streaming service — with a reported 40 million subscribers — finds itself significantly running behind SVOD frontrunners Netflix (with 208 million subs), Amazon Prime Video (150 million), Hulu (40 million) and Disney+ (103 million), despite launching a week ahead of the Disney-branded service.
Wall Street analysts firm MoffettNathanson recently concluded from a proprietary survey that more than 60% Apple TV+ subs are on a promotional plan, with 30% saying they would not sign up for the $4.99 monthly service once the free trial period ended.
Despite a sluggish start with scant original programming, Apple has rebounded with several critically acclaimed programs, including “Ted Lasso,” “The Morning Show,” “Dickinson” and “Central Park,” among others.
“As always, we wonder what Apple TV+ does to stand out in an increasingly crowded field,” analyst Michael Nathanson wrote in a note. “We see AppleTV+ as still sputtering versus [its] peers.”
Roku, along with Netflix, co-launched the subscription streaming video market in 2008 with a branded Netflix media player. The SVOD pioneer eventually became one of the original default buttons in 2011 on the Roku remote along with Amazon Instant Video, Blockbuster On Demand in 2013, and M-Go — the latter rebranded as FandangoNow in 2016. Other platforms joining the remote and paying Roku a reported $1 per consumer sign-up included YouTube, Hulu and Showtime.
“For members who want even more convenience when instantly watching TV shows and movies streaming from Netflix, the answer is about to be right in their hands,” former Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt said at the time, when Netflix had 16 million subs in North America and no international service.