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Apple may steal Netflix streaming crown, but only for a year

(Reuters) - Apple Inc's <AAPL.O> move to offer a free TV+ subscription for a year with every new device may briefly crown the iPhone maker as the biggest streaming service by user numbers, leapfrogging Netflix Inc <NFLX.O>. But it doesn't mean Apple will keep the lead. Under the company's plans announced on Tuesday, any purchaser of an iPhone, Macbook, iPad, or iPod Touch will now get the Apple TV+ streaming service free and will be charged $5 a month only if they decide to continue after the year is over. Given Wall Street expects Apple to sell at least 130 million iPhones outside of China in the next 12 months, and that last year it sold more than 60 million Macbooks and iPads, that should allow TV+ to easily top Netflix's almost 160 million users. Thereafter, however, all bets will be off, with Apple facing the same need for fresh shows to make subscribers pay, which drove Netflix to sink a reported $12 billion into new programing last year. While the company has spent months assembling a roster of Hollywood talent and planned shows, analysts say the $2 billion Apple plans to spend this year is a long way from a guarantee of the hits it would need to pull in viewers, regardless of the cheaper $5 per month price tag for TV+.

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