So, I got a free year of Apple TV+ with my recent iPhone purchase and I gotta say I’m not impressed. Why would I pay 5 bucks a month just for the privilege of paying more money to buy or rent content that is frequently hosted elsewhere? Somebody, please tell me what I’m missing!
I don’t mean to get in the way of a good rant but which shows would those be?
There’s lots of them that are hosted on Prime, Netflix, CBS All Access, etc. One TV show I looked at was Blind Spot.
BTW I don’t really mean this as a rant (who can rant at something free), I really feel I’m not looking in the right place.
Apple TV+ shows are not hosted anywhere else. That’s what you’re getting for $4.99/month. Conflating that with other features is why I called it a rant.
So only the Apple-produced content is included in the subscription, is that it?
Apple TV is not Apple TV+. Apple TV+ is the pay-portion with exclusive content. All iPhones, for example, contain the TV app, with which you can get free content and log into services you already pay for.
I guess that’s fair, Prime does it too. I find it confusing though (on Prime as well).
Nothing much. At this point, IMO, AppleTV+ consists of a lot of advertisements that you have to dig through to find a small handful of Apple produced shows.
I’ve found one show that I liked and a couple of others that I watched. Like CBS All Access and a few other streaming services, I’ll probably pay for Apple TV+ one month a year.
I’ve got the free year as well. The first few weeks I tried really hard to get into the shows they produce, but just failed. If you combine the fact that there’s no content whatsoever to AppleTV+ and that the Apple TV app is the worst possible experience in getting acces to them, I’ve given up on it and will not renew once the free year is up.
to echo your sentiment @jec0047 : why wade through tons of paid content to find the one measly show that’s in your subscription?
Same here. Trial year from my wife’s purchase of a new iPhone. Not much on Apple TV+ far as I can see. We’ve enjoyed (during “lock down”) a couple of Apple-only shows, but no indication there will be a big increase in value a year from now for a subscription considering all the other subscriptions we’ve accidentally found ourselves with. So we also anticipate not continuing after the the trial “free” period.
The fact that a power user forum has trouble figuring out how the hell TV+ works compared to the regular TV app speaks for a frightening design failure.
I have tried to get into TV+, using my free trial. I watched a few shows. I have to say that the production values are stellar: even for something set in the real world such as The Morning Show, the photography is extremely impressive. But I struggle to get into the vibe of the service. To put it bluntly, and I won’t get into a detailed rambling storytelling analysis (even though I’m itching to), even though there’s a lot of very clever writing and high production value, nothing seemed… fun to me. Which is a problem for, you know, an entertainment service.
Honestly, I also take issue with the fact that Apple is pouring billions into making bloody TV shows. Apple Music, News+, I all get – distributing content. But producing it? From time to time, why not, but not build a fully-fledged service around that. Even Netflix licenses external catalogues. Honestly, part of me hopes TV+ fails in its current incarnation and the service transitions to a regular Netflix or Amazon Prime service with a few originals. Give me Macs and thoroughly debugged OSes, not TV series which are sometimes trying a little too hard to be clever.
Anyway – rant ended
The app is a complete mess, especially if you compare it with something like Netflix. And the fact that it doesn’t ask you who is watching each time you open the app, has led to the 4 people in our house ending up watching on the other’s profiles which makes a complete mess of the recommendations and up next.
I know you’re meant to switch profiles on the Apple TV OS, but seriously, who remembers to do that?
My understanding is a little different. Netflix, for example, is seeing a lot of problems with the idea that it can stay profitable merely by licensing content … that is, content providers have woken up to the fact that their content, even well compensated, was making another company still more money, and raising the profile of that company to boot. So a viewer began to think about going to Netflix for watching something, rather than saying, e.g., I like content created by this or that TV studio. How do we know this is true? Because Netflix itself has tried, anyway, to pivot away from licensing existing content towards developing its own content.
In this formulation, content is king, and we can see many of the various content makers have decided to silo more of their content with the development now of multiple new streaming brands. I have to imagine Apple decided merely licensing content is both not their core business and a race to the bottom. Instead, creating content is a way to burnish the larger brand – exclusives bring people to the platform, and any buzz about good content is part of that halo Apple wants called “creative.”
(The calculus is different with music or news … there the issue as I see it isn’t so much getting content as curating content, and combining that with ease of use. Thus music – the goal is make it relatively easy to not just find a song but play it on any device without effort. As for news: if ever there were a content stream that loves/needs curation it’s news.)
But the problems with Apple TV and TV+ (ugh) is as this thread has described. I also don’t care for the interface, starting with the remote, and continuing to the icon scroll screen. As for content: I’m not much of a TV watcher, so I can’t say if there’s a buzz, but my guess is people who do love TV are just not seeing a lot of Apple-produced content, good or bad. There’s no critical mass. It remains to be seen if Apple TV+ becomes the streaming HBO I imagine it wants to be, or if never gets enough traction.
Finally, the x factor in all this is: making good TV is hard. Apple may be discovering it’s not as easy as the people who pitched the idea (internally or otherwise) said it would be. We’ll see.
KillerWhale, I know if you change your mind and want to unpack your vibe critique (or storytelling analysis) I’m interested, with the caveat that as I mentioned I don’t watch a lot of TV and haven’t seen any Apple TV+ content.
Well said. I too tried Apple TV+ but dropped it. I did not find the original content compelling and the entire UI is a mess—which is surprising given Apple’s prior comments about reinventing TV. Frankly, Netflix, Disney+, and U-verse are all easier to deal with than Apple TV with the possible exception of voice control, which I have found to work well. And please, redesign the Apple TV remote!
Damn, you shouldn’t indulge me. (possible minor spoilers for The Morning Show)
Okay, I’m going to try. It’s a difficult subject especially in the current times, and I certainly do not wish to hurt any sensitivities. Please also remember English in not my first language, so apologies in advance for any shortcuts or imprecisions of expression.
First of all, let me say that I’m the first to say that storytellers have a responsibility in the use they make of their voices. They should strive to depict reality faithfully and thus, depicting diversity should then be obvious, and if you’re privileged, you should educate yourself. I also strongly believe that stories as miles better when you take this into account, and that, when you strive for the diversity of voices, your stories resonate more universally – and what’s the point if not to resonate with people’s lives?
That being said, I also believe the first reason for stories to exist is for fun. For the value of « fun » that suits you, mind you, but you should be entertained. In a story, that means life for the characters, with goals and aims and flaws and strengths and moments of brilliance and moments of awfulness. That means agency.
This is where what I have seen from TV+ tends to fall short in my opinion. I get the vibe that Apple is trying to push diversity and serious themes so hard – a noble goal, once again – that it stifles the life of the story. I think ultimately that’s sad, because serious themes are much better served when the story is good, when the audience has fun, because it makes you come back for more, and it broadens your horizons, which is the best of things to happen with stories.
Case in point: Apple’s The Morning Show (which I have studied extensively) Vs. Netflix’s Sex Education.
The Morning Show, in my opinion, is a tremendous piece of writing. Much, much more intricate and well written, and well shot, than Sex Education. It does not shy away from any issue, it faces them squarely, and does it in a lot of clever ways. As a fiction writer myself, I have been in awe more than once in front of the skill with which this show is written and I thought « man, I wish I was this deft with such difficult and important subjects ».
And yet, I believe, it tries to tackle its subject so seriously, so deeply, that is the reason why this is not, ultimately, an entertaining show. It’s a masterclass in writing and in treating its subject, but the characters end up crushed under its gravitas.
Now Sex Education tackles hard subjects as well, and is clearly not as well-written as TMS. It sometimes makes clear social blunders, even (the roleplaying geeks episode…). The production is not as great. But it’s a living thing, which TMS, despite a very polished object, is not really. Life is what makes stories worthwhile. You can feel that the writers of Sex Education prioritise story over discourse and I think TV+ is doing the reverse, and that’s a pity.
Once again, let me reiterate that I greatly value discourse; but fiction is a story first and foremost. TV+ pitches uncomfortably feel like a collection of social issues: « let’s make an SF story with blind people » (See) « let’s make a horror story with people who cannot have children » (Servant) « let’s make a sci-fi show with minorities in space » (For All Mankind) and frankly, this verges on systematic exploitation. Sex Education is « let’s make a show about the difficulties of sex in teenage years » and the way the story is told explores a magnitude of themes, while including very diverse characters, in what seem to my privileged eyes to be a reasonably skilled manner – but does not make it an end in itself. It goes in many difficult waters, but with characters who have agency. TMS characters don’t, they mostly serve as philosophical proxies for discussing the theme of the show. And that is why, ultimately, I think Sex Education works as fiction where TMS struggles. The best SF show in my eyes, Babylon 5, weaves diversity, tolerance and inclusion in the story while never being solely about this. It’s deeply embedded in the themes and the story – it’s a story about the human race growing into its own place in the stars – but it never forgets it’s a story. And I believe this is the way it should be done, because, in the end, that is also the right way to serve a discourse and convey important themes.
I believe it’s no wonder than the only star to get an award in TMS in Billy Crudup – he’s a wonderful actor, but he also plays a wonderfully written role which is more remote from the premise of the story. He’s basically a wildcard and a free character who gets in and out of the show’s premise with his own agenda, breathing much needed life into the show – and that’s what all characters should be. Sad thing is, TMS itself mentions that some people can be forever cast into their roles in the eyes of others – but it does exactly that with much of its characters.
And that is why I enjoy Netflix more than TV+, despite poorer writing in many shows. Netflix tries to please me a viewer (sometimes it does fail, mind you) and then educate me. I feel that TV+ always wants to educate me first. And I believe that’s a flawed outlook on storytelling. You convey values through a strong story, and you try and care to convey strong moral stances while doing great entertainment – and that’s when fiction works, and also where you can further the conversation about important issues. But if you start from the values and force a story into them, you crush the life and the significance out of both. And I feel too much of TV+ starts from this. And I think it’s a pity, because with all the billions poured in it, I would have wanted to see shows that would, in a way, have the supreme cleverness to know that you sometimes should remember to not be too clever.
That is extraordinarily well said! My far more simplistic reaction to TMS was that it was “preachy” and lacked any subtlety. A far better example of a great novel and movie series that deals with the great issues of good and evil in its many manifestations while being thoroughly entertaining, well produced, and not preachy is Lord of the Rings. Another example would be the Christmas Carol and I could name many many more.
This is the fundamental issue with Apple TV branding right now. It’s hardware, software, and a service. I personally have liked most of the ATV+ shows but even as an Apple enthusiast, it wasn’t obvious where to even find it cause it’s buried within the TV app.
well done. appreciate your perspective as a writer.
When it first came out I dismissed ATV+ as uninteresting, after trying a few free episodes. In intervening months I would the TV app on Apple TV from time to time and found the navigation a bit confusing. But navigation and discovery in Netflix is a heck of a lot more confusing, Prime is not much better, HBO navigation keeps getting worse. But still, the TV app wasn’t one I used much.
However, just last week I decide the give the subscription a new trial. A few days later, “Dear…” was introduced, and I am enjoying its lightweight but interesting documentaries. So maybe I’ll try a few more shows.
Very interesting take. I haven’t seen The Morning Show, so I can’t comment on it specifically, but I have seen TV which is, as you say, a “masterclass in writing and in treating its subject, but [where] the characters end up crushed under its gravitas.”
And I can readily imagine the contrast with “Sex Education,” which I have seen, and mostly enjoyed (a little flagging in Season 2? Most shows don’t do as well when the love interests are not on screen together enough). I think you’re right about the prioritizing of story; I guess my take would be that “Sex Education” is always governed by a kind of plausibility circuit in that while the characters are a little more noble or weird or odd or eccentric than we might run into in our own lives, we still recognize them, in all their imperfections – so the show feels less contrived, whatever the plot absurdities (after all, life is rife with absurdities.) It’s not a show afraid to be a little complicated, which as far as I can tell, is also very life-like.
And yes, living thing matters more than production values or Mamet-level writing, again, because of the characters. It certainly matters more than budget.
I think it remains to be seen how much TMS is representative of what is coming from Apple TV+, or how much “Sex Education” is representative of Netflix. Netflix originals are, to my mind, hit or miss just like any other network, only Netflix currently has a boatload of money to both make things and buy things. As other streamers come online, the economics of that may change. And meanwhile, over at Apple, they may learn more about giving up some polish in turn for something more vital.
(But vital usually always involves risk, and I think Apple isn’t great with risk that involves potentially tarnishing its halo.)