Apple TV+ – Is It Worth It?

Is Apple's new adventure into the realm of streaming media a most excellent one?

  • Apple
  • Website: tv.apple.com
  • Price: £4.99, $4.99, 4,99 €
  • Compatibility: iOS & macOS

Who else has encountered the Blockbuster Video Hypnosis Syndrome (BBVHS)? Those walls full of VHS boxes all fighting to claim your rental fee. Endless rows of colourful box art calling out to you. ‘Do you want a horror movie? Maybe some action? How about a comedy? We have everything your square eyes could desire!’

Sometimes too much choice is actually a bad thing and Blockbuster is now noticeably just the fuel of nostalgia. However, its hypnosis effect lives on through Netflix, Prime, Hula, Shudder, HBO Max, Disney + and the countless, other streaming media services that have probably launched today. Thanks to the wonders of Wi-Fi and 5G, we can now be baffled by choice swiping through endless movie posters and enticing promotional artwork looking to entertain you. So we can re-create BBVHS in our own homes, or even on the bus to work.

Now from my point of view, given my advancing years, a little nostalgia-smothered BBVHS is a treat. For others, the loss of the video store and decline of physical media is painful to revisit; any reminder of their home entertainment past is just too much to bear. Scrolling through a vast array of movies and TV shows, with hundreds if not thousands of options, conjures up unwelcome recollections of the now-lost-forever video store. The only antidote is a lack of choice. Fortunately for them, there is hope for the future and it’s Apple shaped.

Apple TV+ is proof that not everything the tech giant touches turns to gold. I’m genuinely confused by the concept behind it. It’s an exclusive streaming service to Apple devices that offers unique multi-episodic programming and feature-length content. Nothing new here; just another Netflix or Prime, etc. In its most basic terms, that’s true, TV+ is Apple’s answer to the host of streaming services available, albeit with one significant difference. Unlike the competition, there’s no back-catalogue contents and no third-party productions; just the Apple-funded content alone. Of course, this wouldn’t be an issue if Apple had been producing both big- and small-screen content for years and had already amassed a vast range of titles. Alas, they haven’t!

At launch Apple TV+ is home to a total of eight TV shows and no feature-length movies. Even more bizarrely, unlike Netflix, where a new show is made available in its complete form, TV+ shows are released on an episode-by-episode basis on a weekly cycle, removing any possible binge-watching potential (a cliché, albeit a joy-filled one that most associate with streaming services), and possibly indicating their awareness of the need to ration such limited content. Ironically, if it were possible, one could binge Apple’s entire catalogue in just a few days!

Accessed via the current Apple TV app, TV+ is a rather low-key addition with the exclusive subscription content accessed alongside the third-party options. This feels like a rather sub-standard idea; much like the muted launch of Apple Arcade. Frankly, if Apple isn’t going to make a song and dance about their all-new, 100% exclusive content, why should we lavish them with our attention and our subscription fee?

While there’s no denying the quality of the high-profile launch output, realistically, there isn’t enough of it to justify a subscription purchase. Personally, having watched the pilot for each show, only ‘See’ and ‘Snoopy in Space’ drew me back for seconds. The former primarily due to the bear-hugging charisma of Jason Momoa and the latter because it’s Snoopy! This renders my subscription even less value, considering only 25% of the content reached out to me.

Apple TV+ would work far better as a free service for an initial period until there’s a large enough library to tempt people to subscribe. Failing that, there are many independent production companies, which aren’t owned by Disney yet, so surely Apple could add their titles to their collection. Or even purchase the library titles from several smaller, independent studios and production companies? By emphasizing its exclusivity, TV+ simply limits your choice.

Think of it another way. If you were asked to sign up for Apple Music but could only listen to eight albums of their choice (not yours), whose tracks were only released individually, would you sign up?

The established streaming competition is just too strong to buckle under the weight of a frankly weak Apple TV+. In a jam-packed marketplace, this isn’t good enough and without an additional injection of content, there seems little chance of that changing in the short term.

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Apple TV+
  • Overall
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Summary

As a free soft launch, a simple proof of concept to show the potential that awaits the fully stacked launch, Apple TV+ would be great. Alas, it isn’t, and thus it’s not!

+ High quality, exclusive content
– Errr, is that it?
– Very expensive by comparison
– No movies at all, nothing?

Ian Osborne

Ian has worked on computer and video games magazines since the legendary Crash and Zzap! 64 in the early Nineties, so he’s seen many changes over the years (including an expanding waistline and receding hairline). A lifelong Mac user, he bought his first Mac in the year 2000. It’s a testament to the resilience of the Mac that his mother is still using that computer to this very day.

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