Apple has reportedly told a union that represents filmworkers that its subscriber count in North America is only 20 million. That number is reportedly low enough that it is impacting the money paid to film crew workers. The 20 million North American subscribers is as of July.
Low subscriber numbers means that Apple is paying film crews less than the rates paid by rival streaming services like Netflix. Apple typically plays its subscriber numbers very close to the vest, but the 20 million figure was divulged by a spokesperson for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees on Friday. It represents figures for the US and Canada.
Apple has struggled getting subscribers to its service. Early on it gave away long term subscriptions to users as a perk for buying Apple devices like tablets and iPhones. As the free subscriptions ended, many of those free subscriptions failed to turn into paid subscriptions as Apple hoped.
The union that revealed the subscriber numbers represents set builders, camera operators, and other workers. Currently the union is in negotiations on a proposal that would allow streaming services with less than 20 million subscribers to pay union workers less than services with more subscribers.
The union disagrees and wants pay to be more fair across the board no matter what subscriber numbers the service has. Apple TV Plus with less than 20 million subscribers is significantly down compared to Netflix which boasts 74 million subscribers in the US and Canada. Disney Plus currently has 38 million subscribers in North America. Apple has some quality programming, but it continues to have low subscriber numbers. Recently it added an adaptation of the Foundation saga that spans ten episodes.