Apple’s TV strategy has produced a mix of both winning and losing. While I think the company is largely on the right track with its efforts to produce original TV+ content, and it’s also poised to take a cut of many popular streaming services’ revenue via In-App Purchases, I nonetheless think it’s clear that the company’s attempts to offer a great TV experience are failing.
Posts tagged with "apple tv"
Last Friday Apple debuted a special new episode of its TV+ series Mythic Quest that was produced entirely during this season of quarantine. Lacey Rose at The Hollywood Reporter interviewed the co-creators of the show, Rob McElhenney and Megan Ganz, about the origins and challenges of the episode:
McElhenney pitched the idea to his bosses at Apple, who were immediately on board. To pull it off, he told a team in Cupertino, California, that the production would need 40 new iPhones and 20 sets of earbuds later that week. “This was a Monday, and I said, ‘If we have them by Friday, I think we could pull this off. Is that possible?’” he recounts by phone. “There was a rep on the call who didn’t skip a beat. She said, ‘I already have them tracked down. They’re in L.A. and I can have them to you by this afternoon.’”
Three weeks later, Mythic Quest: Quarantine was shot, edited and ready to air. McElhenney and the programmers at Apple feel so strongly about the finished product, which will drop on Friday, that they’re submitting it for Emmy consideration. “In the beginning, I think there was a real possibility that it would be a nightmare,” says Nicdao, “but by the end, I was ready to do three more.”
I watched the episode over the weekend, and it really is something special. It beautifully captures the human experience of this pandemic, confronting the dark moments while also providing a lot of joy. I won’t be at all surprised if it wins an Emmy.
If you’re interested in TV production at all, the full interview goes into lots of nitty gritty details that are fascinating and well checking out.
Over the weekend, Apple debuted its TV+ content lineup for the first half of 2020 at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour. This Press Tour is a tradition of the TV industry, where traditional networks and streaming services alike share about the new content they’ll be releasing soon. Apple got to join the festivities this year for the first time, detailing its TV+ lineup through early summer, including release dates for highly anticipated series we already knew about, plus the debuts of new shows that hadn’t been previously announced.
Today Disney has launched what’s almost certain to become one of the most successful streaming services over time: Disney+. Apple users can enjoy the new streaming service through the Disney+ app for iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. You can subscribe directly inside the app to start a 7-day free trial, after which it costs $6.99/month or $69.99/year. Disney is also offering a bundled option, where Disney+, Hulu (with ads), and ESPN+ are available for a single $12.99 monthly fee; to sign up for that bundle, you need to visit disneyplus.com.
Disney+ features an enormous back catalog of Disney favorites, from classic animated films to the worlds of Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and National Geographic. Not only that, but Disney has prepared a healthy slate of originals to accompany the launch, the clear standout of which is the Star Wars-based The Mandalorian. Combining originals and catalog fare, Disney+ is unquestionably the strongest content debut ever for a streaming service.
The app experience of Disney+ seems at least as good as other streaming services, and in some cases even better. As seen in the image above, Disney+ on the Apple TV offers an easy way to log in if you’ve already set up your account on an iPhone or iPad. Unlike most other streaming apps, which require entering a code on your TV, the Disney+ app can automatically log you in on your Apple TV when you have the mobile app open on the same Wi-Fi network.
You can also connect the Disney+ app to Apple’s own TV app, enabling you to track everything you’re watching from Disney inside the TV app’s Up Next queue. You’ll see Disney+ shows and movies advertised inside TV’s Watch Now tab, where they can be added to your queue. This way, content from Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO, and other sources can all reside in one universal hub.
Unfortunately, Disney+ isn’t available as a channel inside the TV app, it only offers an app integration. What this means is that you’ll have to download the Disney+ app on all your devices to play the service’s content, whereas with channels content you can watch without needing a separate app. Also, whenever you initiate playback in TV you’ll be bumped out to the Disney+ app, making for a clunkier playback experience than you would have if the service was available as a channel.
The streaming wars are only just now starting to heat up, and the launch of Disney+ is a significant moment in those wars. While for some, the new service represents yet another video subscription they’re asked to pay for, it truly is remarkable that the dream of unbundling content from expensive cable or satellite packages is finally coming true.
Update, November 7: The shortcut has been updated with links to all currently announced Apple TV+ shows. You can find the updated download link below and in the MacStories Shortcuts Archive.
I was listening to the latest episode of Upgrade, and, among several fair points about the shortcomings of Apple’s TV app for iPhone and iPad, Jason Snell mentioned an issue that stood out to me: if you don’t know where to look, it can be hard to tell where exactly the Apple TV+ service lives inside the Apple TV app. This sentiment was echoed earlier today in this article by Benjamin Mayo at 9to5Mac:
Apple has made very few changes to the TV app design and feature set to accommodate the TV+ launch. TV+ is shoehorned in as just another source of content with very little consideration. With other streaming services, if you want to commit to their world and explore everything they have to offer, you can just open the dedicated app and never touch the TV app. With TV+, that’s simply not possible.
There is a channel section of the TV app that is dedicated to TV+ content — but it’s far from perfect. Finding the TV+ section requires a lot of scrolling, meandering past several screens worth of Watch Now recommendations for everything in the iTunes catalog.
I’ve been watching The Morning Show over the weekend (which I surprisingly liked a lot; I’m going to start For All Mankind and See next), and even though I’m used to the TV app’s quirks by now, I recognize that its navigation should be improved. And in particular regarding the new Apple TV+ service, I do believe that it’s somewhat buried in the TV app experience – by default, Apple doesn’t offer a single, easy way to open a “page” with Apple TV+’s complete catalog. So, I had to figure out a solution on my own.
Apple has released a trailer for its upcoming movie, The Banker, on its Apple TV YouTube channel. The company describes the film as follows:
Based on a true story, “The Banker” centers on revolutionary businessmen Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie) and Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson), who devise an audacious and risky plan to take on the racially oppressive establishment of the 1960s by helping other African Americans pursue the American dream. Along with Garrett’s wife Eunice (Nia Long), they train a working class white man, Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult), to pose as the rich and privileged face of their burgeoning real estate and banking empire – while Garrett and Morris pose as a janitor and a chauffeur. Their success ultimately draws the attention of the federal government, which threatens everything the four have built.
The film, which is rated PG-13, will be released in theaters December 6th and stream Apple TV+ in January 2020 following a similar pattern to The Elephant Queen and Hala which are also Apple Original movies. It’s an interesting approach and one that is likely designed to ensure the films are eligible for awards like the Oscars, while simultaneously creating marketing opportunities and viewer awareness in advance of their debut on TV+.
Apple TV+ is now available, a video subscription service that Apple has been working on for over two years now. The new streaming service debuts in over 100 countries, and can be accessed now inside the TV app on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices, and select smart TV manufacturers, as well as from tv.apple.com.
Apple TV+ costs $4.99 per month, but all users are offered a 7-day free trial; also, anyone who has purchased a new iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, or iPod touch since September 10 will receive a free year of service. Finally, even if you don’t subscribe at all, Apple has made the first two episodes of all of its series available for free viewing in the TV app.
While the cost of entry is low for Apple TV+, what you get for the price is also fairly limited at the moment. Apple has branded TV+ “the first all-original video subscription service,” which means there’s no back catalog of legacy content, only brand new shows and movies that have never been released before. This angle could be spun as a positive thing in some respects, because many streaming consumers these days care most about new content, but it also means you can quickly watch everything TV+ has to offer and be stuck waiting for more content.
Here’s the full lineup of everything Apple TV+ offers today:
Apple’s streaming video service, Apple TV+, launches this Friday, November 1st. Ahead of its launch, today the first reviews dropped for the service’s tentpole originals: The Morning Show, See, For All Mankind, and Dickinson. Overall the critical takes are extremely mixed: though I haven’t seen any reviews that are outright negative, and there are a few which are very positive, the majority of reviews seem to lie somewhere in-between those two extremes.
For All Mankind appears the best-received Apple series, with Dickinson perhaps the second most-praised; however, that may be due to the added pressure placed on The Morning Show and See as Apple’s top two draws. Though many reviewers found things to praise about each show, such as Jennifer Aniston’s strong performance in The Morning Show, and the incredible visuals of See, the majority of their critical emphasis was on the ways these series fail to live up to high expectations.
One common note struck by reviewers is that with most Apple TV+ shows, only three episodes per series were provided for review, which made it difficult to adequately evaluate each first season. Perhaps tellingly, For All Mankind had the most episodes screened for critics, and it’s the most-praised show.
Below is a roundup of excerpts from various reviews that help provide a good overview of what to expect from Apple’s first original series.
Roku announced in a press release that the Apple TV app would be available on its streaming devices starting today:
For the first time ever, Roku users can add the Apple TV app via the Roku Channel Store to discover and watch movies, TV shows and more, including accessing their iTunes video library and subscribing to Apple TV channels directly on Roku devices. Starting November 1, Apple TV+, Apple’s home for all-original shows and movies from the world’s greatest storytellers, will be available on the Apple TV app on the Roku platform.
Like the TV app on Samsung smart TV sets, the Roku version of the app offers access to all iTunes movie and TV show content, as well as all Apple TV channels options, such as HBO, CBS All-Access, and soon Apple TV+. However, content from non-channels like Hulu or Amazon Prime Video, which are accessible on iOS and tvOS devices, will not be present on the Roku version of the TV app because it lacks third-party app integrations. Moving forward though, I expect that all of Apple’s new content partners with the TV app will be full-on channels rather than legacy app integrations.
Earlier this year Apple announced that the TV app would also be arriving on Amazon Fire TV devices and TV sets from more manufacturers, so as we get closer to the November 1 launch of Apple TV+, I expect we’ll see those other vendors all follow Roku’s lead.