Apple has been pretty coy about the number of Apple TV+ subscribers, but an analytics company cited by the Wall Street Journal puts the number for the last quarter of 2019 at 33.6 million.

That’s more than Hulu and, for the moment, more than Disney+

Apple hasn’t given much away, saying only that the company was ‘thrilled’ with takeup. The Hollywood Reporter and Variety said there were “millions” of viewers in the first three days, but that’s as much as we’ve heard so far.

However, the Wall Street Journal carries a report that estimates 33.6 million subscribers, against 31.8 million for Hulu and 23.2 million for Disney+.

Of course, rivals would be quick to point out that the vast majority of Apple TV+ subscribers will be on the one-year free trial that comes with the purchase of any iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, or Mac purchased after September 10, 2019. It remains to be seen how many of them will continue their subscriptions once that free trial expires.

Disney+ also launched halfway through the quarter, so its numbers will rocket this quarter — and again in Q2 when the service goes live in Europe.

But I agree with Apple commentator John Gruber’s take on this.

If that’s even close to accurate I’d say Apple TV+ is a roaring success. Yes, of course, surely most of those customers are using it free of charge for the first year. But that’s the point of this ‘buy any Apple device, get a free year of TV+’ promotion. Apple wants people to take advantage of it — it’s the answer to the question of how you launch a paid streaming service with no content other than 11 original shows. Make Apple TV+ a habit now, get paid later. Apple can afford to be patient.

I’ve been curious how many people who qualify for TV+ know about it, and realize just how easy Apple’s TV app makes it to start your yearlong free subscription. Apparently, a lot.

If you qualify for the one-year free trial but haven’t yet accepted, you only have 90 days from the purchase date of the qualifying device, so you may need to act quickly.

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