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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the streaming wars heat up, consumers are going to have to be choosy about which services they subscribe to, or risk racking up steep monthly bills.

Why it matters: Digital streaming was supposed to break up the expensive cable bundle, but now that so many companies are launching their own services, paying for TV could get even more expensive and complicated.

Expand chart
Table: Axios Visuals

Driving the news: Apple announced Tuesday that it would charge just $4.99 a month for its new streaming service, Apple TV+.

  • Its rivals, Netflix and Disney+, both price their services higher, at $8.99 and $6.99 monthly, respectively, for the cheapest packages.
  • But both services offer far more programming than Apple, including original shows and movies as well as older "catalog" content, including popular series with hundreds of episodes.
  • For Apple, streaming is less a core business than part of a larger strategy of holding on to customers. The same holds for Amazon's Prime Video service.

Be smart: According to Mike Bloxham, SVP of global media and entertainment at research consultancy Magid, people are willing to spend around $38 monthly total on streaming services.

  • That means that they will likely chose between 3-4 services to invest in monthly.

Yes, but: Unlike cable contracts, most streaming services allow users to share passwords, or cancel at any time. Because of this, streaming services need to worry about how to retain customers, not just accrue them.

Our thought bubble: The key differentiator for all of these new streaming offerings will be whether the packages are "sticky" enough to keep users coming back after they finish their favorite show or original series. For companies like Apple, even with a low pricing advantage, smaller content libraries will make it harder to attract and retain subscribers.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

14 mins ago - World

Blinken makes unannounced trip to Afghanistan to sell troop withdrawal

Photo: CARLOS BARRIA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan on Thursday to meet with the nation's president, Ashraf Ghani, and Abdullah Abdullah, who is representing the Taliban in negotiations, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Blinken sought to reassure the pair that the U.S. will maintain support for the country, despite President Biden's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan starting May 1 and concluding in full by Sept. 11.

Women rise to the top at major media companies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Several women have been tapped to lead some of the country's largest newsrooms over the past year — a promising sign of progress for an industry that's typically been slow to accept change and embrace diversity.

Driving the news: CBS News executive Kimberly Godwin was named president of ABC News on Wednesday. Godwin will be the first Black woman to lead a major broadcast news division when she takes the helm in May.

Americans will likely have to navigate a maze of vaccine "passports"

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Many private businesses and some states are plowing ahead with methods of verifying that people have been vaccinated, despite conservative resistance to "vaccine passports."

Why it matters: Many businesses view some sort of vaccine verification system as key to getting back to normal. But in the absence of federal leadership, a confusing patchwork approach is likely to pop up.