How the Apple TV + service works and why Apple is not going to compete with Netflix

A company invests a lot less money in original content and pursues other goals.

On November 1, Apple TV + streaming service was launched in more than 100 countries of the world, including Russia . Eight original projects are available at the start: some as a whole, and some only partially.

How does Apple TV + work and how much

TV + is available immediately on all Apple devices with support for the latest systems, including set-top boxes, iPhones, iPads, iPods and Macbooks. On iOS and macOS, the service works through the built-in TV application – there is a separate section for Apple TV +.

You can get access to the service without Apple equipment, either through some Samsung SmartTV or the web version on . In this case, you will have to create an Apple ID account and link a credit card. On Android, there is also no separate application for Apple TV + yet, but it can be launched later by analogy with Apple Music.

A subscription to Apple TV + in the United States will cost $ 4.99 (about 315 rubles), but Russian prices are lower – 199 rubles per month. For owners of Apple appliances, special conditions apply : when you purchase any device that supports the latest versions of systems, they receive a year of Apple TV + as a gift. Everyone else can try the service for free only in the first 7 days.

In the section with TV +, a catalog with released projects, information about the actors and a short list of upcoming releases are available. The interface is built in the form of several selections in three rows, but they almost completely duplicate each other due to the small amount of available content.

The web version is still poorer: after entering the account, a ribbon opens with the covers of the projects and the “enable series” button. You can also open a list of all series and choose the right one – nothing else can be done.

While the service seems crude compared to competitors. If it works almost perfectly on the iPad, then when you try to watch the series on a PC via Chrome, the video is interrupted every 10 minutes.

On an iPad or iPhone, the service remembers the place in the series where you left off and turns it on from the same moment the next time you start. But in the web version of synchronization, it’s either not yet, or it doesn’t always work – my progress is always reset to zero. 

TV + does not allow you to select the video quality on any of the platforms. Apparently, this happens automatically based on the connection and the user’s device, but it works strangely in the web version: on my PC with Full HD-screen, the series were played in 720p quality and lower bitrate with a 100-megabit wired connection.

In Russia, the service started almost entirely without dubbing, with the exception of the children’s series “Helpers”. However, Russian subtitles are available for all projects: in TV + applications it selects them automatically, and on the site you will have to guess from the four variants of the Cyrillic alphabet, only one of which is actually Russian.

The service also has no trivial things after Netflix and Amazon, such as the “skip screensaver” button. But navigation is easy to get confused – the “continue viewing” list is on the start screen of the TV application, but it is not in the TV + section. This is not critical to start, but still inconvenient, especially considering that in some projects the intro lasts about three minutes.

What to watch

Unlike other services, TV + allows you to watch only Apple Originals exclusives by subscription – there is no catalog with third-party content there. The service started with a modest number of available projects: seven series and one documentary.

Judging by the first exclusives, the company clearly wanted to reach the widest possible audience. Among Apple Originals there are projects for children and family content, large-scale series about space and the backstage of American television, as well as small youth projects.

All content in the service can be divided into two large categories: flagship expensive projects and everything else. Apple itself is also contributing to this separation – some shows will have new episodes once a week on Fridays, while others will immediately release them in full. Thus, the company intends to retain an audience.

At the same time, Apple has no plans for a significant increase in content in the near future. The company intends to release only one new project per month.

The first Apple TV + projects:

  • “See” – the action takes place 600 years after the destruction of most of humanity by a mysterious virus. Survivors are forever blinded and learn to live in a new world for them;
  • The Morning Show is a television backstage drama with Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston in the lead roles;
  • Dickinson is a black comedy about the problems of growing up, family and gender in a conservative society through the eyes of a young American rebel poet Emily Dickinson;
  • “For the sake of all mankind” – the series of the show runner of the “Star cruiser Galaxy” about an alternative story where the space race never stopped, and the Soviet Union first landed on the moon;
  • “Helpers” – a children’s series from the creators of “Sesame Street”;
  • “Snoopy in space” – an animated series about Snoopy’s adventures on the way to his cherished dream: to become an astronaut;
  • “Ghost Messages” is a story about four children who were united by the mystery of an unknown creature from a bookstore: together they have to rescue heroes of various works from captivity;
  • The Queen of the Elephants is a documentary about the ups and downs of the lives of giants that are on the verge of extinction. The elephant mother and her magnificent herd are experiencing joy and loss in the vastness of the African savannah;

Briefly about the main Apple TV + shows

“Morning show”with Jennifer Enniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell in the lead roles – one of the most expensive series in history, each episode of which, according to media reports, cost $ 15 million. The show is dedicated to the backstage of work on American television and is related to current events in the United States, including allegations of sexual violence and the MeToo movement.

In the Morning Show, corporate games of thrones, journalism, the media business and the general political agenda are simultaneously intertwined. At the same time, the show does not try to take sides, and even raises some bold questions: for example, is it fair to destroy the career of a person who had sex with an employee by mutual agreement.

“For the sake of all mankind”- a series from the show runner of the “Star cruiser” Galaxy “about an alternative history of the battle for space between the USSR and the USA. According to the plot, the Soviet Union was the first to land a man on the moon, while the Americans remained catching up. The space race does not end, as it actually happened.

So far, “For the Sake of All Mankind” seems like the most promising project on Apple TV +, mainly because of the original idea. Often I want to imagine what would happen if everything had turned out differently, and “For the sake of all mankind” is built around such a fantasy. The authors rewrite history in the most bold and unexpected way, and against the backdrop of a drama unfolds on how high the cost of space discoveries is.

“See”- A series with Jason Momoa in the title role about how humanity once survived a pandemic and died out almost entirely, and the survivors lost their eyesight. In the center of the plot is a settlement of people in which people with vision appear.

The project could well have turned out to be something like “Day of the Triffids” – stories about the survival of blind people after the collapse of civilization. But the authors hit something primitive: people live in caves and degraded, and society rolled back almost to the Stone Age. Such conventions seemed unrealistic to me: it is strange to see how the blind fight not worse than the sighted, ride horses and navigate without problems in the forest.

Why Apple is not going to make “its Netflix”

After the announcement of Apple TV +, only the lazy did not compare the service with Netflix or Disney. Many have wondered how Apple intends to deal with large competitors with such a meager amount of content.

The answer is simple: she probably did not intend to – the company had a completely different tactic from the very beginning.

The difference is easy to notice, even if you just look at the costs of companies on the original content. According to the most daring estimates of the media, Apple spent $ 6 billion on creating shows and films for the platform, while Netflix spent about $ 15 in 2019 and $ 24 billion for Disney.

No more than 60 exclusives will be released on Apple TV + in the coming year , and Netflix in 2019 was going to release about 300 different projects. At the same time, Apple does not directly produce its content: production companies like Anonymous Content or Sony Pictures Television do it for it. And Netflix has long established its own production and annually increases its share in exclusive projects.

If desired, Apple could very quickly defeat Netflix and any competitors both in terms of production costs and the amount of content. The company has unlimited budgets – its accounts still have more than $ 200 billion.

But it was not in vain that Netflix publicly said that they did not see a threat in launching TV + – the Apple model does not interfere with such services. The company does not need to attract subscribers, filling the market with as much content as possible: it already has at its disposal all users of iOS, macOS and tvOS.

Services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video are trying to create the feeling that everything is immediately available in one place. To do this, they buy expensive licenses for third-party content and ask for more money for a subscription. And Apple promises dozens of times less content, but high quality and much cheaper for users.

TV + and its “competitors” just work in different market segments. It is unlikely that users will close all needs by subscribing only to the Apple service – there is too little content. But subscribing to Netflix or Amazon Prime Video can eliminate the urge to spend money on something else.

In fact, Apple is not going to earn only on subscriptions like Netflix or Disney. At the very least, TV + is needed for the company to sell paid content in the TV application, and as a maximum, to easily attract an audience to the ecosystem and force them to pay for more expensive products.

Even if only every 10th Apple user will pay for TV +, by 2025 the service will grow into a 9 billionth business.

In this sense, Apple’s idea may be similar to Amazon. In 2018, Jeff Bezos announced that Prime Video streaming service helps attract and retain Amazon Prime subscribers. Users agree to a joint subscription for the series, and then spend money on orders for products from Amazon to get the most out of it.

Apple is likely to follow the same path. She has already taken the first steps: she offered students with a subscription to Apple Music a free subscription to Apple TV + and launched a subscription to buy an iPhone in the United States using an Apple Card.

After launching TV + and Arcade, the emergence of a single subscription from Apple is only a matter of time. The company has been looking for a new model for several years amid falling sales of hardware. Subscription is an ideal way out and constant incomes which will generate more and more expenses of users.

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