Apple Hints at Free Trial Extension Rationale With Awards Season Push

Apple Hints Free Trial Extension Rationale
Cheyne Gateley/VIP

It’s been months since Apple initially extended the free trial period for some from late 2020 into February 2021, and it’s about to become clearer to the public why the company chose to do so.

Apple’s latest feature film original and Oscar hopeful, “Palmer,” debuted on Apple TV+ on Friday.

The film might not have been named as much in Oscar predictions in recent weeks as titles like Netflix’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” or Searchlight’s “Nomadland,” but Variety film awards editor Clayton Davis did earlier in January include “Palmer” in his list of six 2021 films that could be Oscar contenders. 

Moreover, “Palmer” sits at a roughly 70% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes (at the time of this writing), which surely doesn’t signal universal praise, but also suggests Apple didn’t totally strike out on its latest prestige swing.  

So it’s understandable that Apple would want this film to reach as many eyeballs as possible as it campaigns for its first Oscar win.  

As streamers like Netflix (which is dropping 70 original films in 2021) aggressively build out their film pushes and condition their subscribers to regularly return to their services for fresh film content, Apple aims to make it clear it also has a destination for high quality original films. 

This aim will be proven further in the coming months as Apple drops higher profile projects like the Tom Holland starrer-“Cherry” (March 12) and feature doc “Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry” (February 26). 

Cherry, which follows the story of an army medic suffering from PTSD, is one of Apple’s mid-tier contenders for the 2021 Best Picture Oscar race, Davis predicted last week 

“The World’s a Little Blurry” isn’t eligible for the Best Documentary award at this year’s Oscars, but it still seems like a title capable of generating some noise due to Eilish’s large following (75 million Instagram followers). 

Apple’s latest free trial extension until July will ensure more consumers are easily able to see these two titles as Apple TV+ continues to try and prove its capable of more than just “The Morning Show.  

The service already seems on its way to doing so with recent solid TV releases like “Ted Lasso” and “Tehran,” but conveying to consumers it also has a strong film pipeline could eventually encourage some to convert into paying subscribers (and that’s probably a top concern for Apple). 

Building up the Apple TV+ paid sub base could help Apple get closer to a number that it finally feels comfortable with sharing. Predictably during Apple’s fiscal year Q1 2021 earnings last week, it barely spoke about Apple TV+.