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Apple TV+... where are you?
It delivered the 2014 promise of streaming... why aren't more people subscribing?
Yesterday I put in a pre-order for the new series 9 Apple Watch to replace my ailing series 3 Watch. And my several years-old Airpods Pro have had an irksome crackle with intermittent high pitch squeals for a few months, so while on site, I also made a cheeky little purchase there.
I mention this as to point out that I am deep in the Apple eco-system. I have the phone. I have the laptop. And I have the Apple TV+ streaming video program.
I’m not alone in owning a whole lot of Apple gear and being pretty invested in the eco-system. But, I feel I am alone as an Apple TV+ subscriber. There’s almost zero buzz around any of the programming - even the return of The Morning Show last week came and went with barely a whimper.
This week Nielsen released its monthly The Gauge report (for August) which outlines the US share of consumption. FAST service Pluto TV is peaking its head in with some regularity now, taking a 0.9% share of consumption. But you can see what isn’t there: the boutique Apple TV+.
The problem with Apple TV+ isn’t the programming. The Morning Show, as frustrating as it is on an episode-to-episode basis, is still very watchable. And of course there are some genuine hits like Ted Lasso, along with some mildly buzzy shows like Hijack and Silo. But those titles that pop are far and few between.
A lot of the best TV shows of the past year are on Apple TV+ - it has an incredible strike rate. Shrinking, Platonic, the aforementioned Hijack, and Slow Horses have been among the best.
And you can tell that Apple TV+ isn’t quite cutting through, otherwise the fantastic kids cartoon Stillwater would be dominating social media with adults fawning over this meditative thirst trap.
Step aside Bandit.
(Seriously, Stillwater is really wonderful. It’s a quiet and acontemplative cartoon which is about a wise panda that lives next door to some kids and teaches them lessons each episode about understanding their own emotions and being mindful of others. The animation is incredible, the storytelling is incredibly smart, and my 2 year-old is almost as into it as I am).
This Friday the service is about to launch one of my favourite shows of 2023, a unique romcom about two insomniacs who communicate through the night by phone. Still Up stars Craig Roberts (Red Oaks, Submarine) and Antonia Thomas (Misfits, Lovesick) who are smoking on screen, yet share no actual screen-time together in the same room until the season finale (and when they meet… okay, that would be telling. But it is a goddamn delight).
Why isn’t Apple TV+ connecting with audiences? When I look at the programming, it fulfils the promise of what we all expected from streaming services during those nascent years of streaming where Netflix was vowing to become HBO faster than HBO could become Netflix. Look at both Netflix and HBO’s streamer Max in 2023 and it far more resembles a network like CBS than the premium drama and comedies that we expected.
Apple TV+ is delivering on that promise. What it isn’t doing is presenting that content in an easy to consume platform that is just the Apple TV+ content. Instead, it is tacked on to a portal where Apple TV users can aggregate all the content from other services into the one app (sans Netflix). It means Apple TV+ loses its brand identity and no one knows that this one streaming service is a destination for so many great TV shows.
If viewers don’t know that an Apple TV+ show is from Apple TV+, it is little wonder that they aren’t finding value in the service to keep subscribing.
I’m reminded of Matt Belloni’s recent survey which sought to understand how people feel about a streaming service. The service with the least-favourable score: Apple TV+.
Apple TV+ has great content. What it doesn’t have is a great user interface. I’ll be thinking about this as I pop into the Apple store on Saturday morning to grab my new tech treats.
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Fantastic drama Dark Winds has been renewed for a third season. Read: THR
Australian network Seven is claiming 300,000 monthly viewers on its FAST service. Read: Mediaweek
Vanna White has signed on for two more years of letter-turning on Wheel of Fortune. Read: THR
The rather good Aussie comedy Colin From Accounts will debut on the US Paramount+. Read: Deadline
US streamer Max will add a sports tier for $9.99 from Oct, with a few free months as a taster. Read: The Verge
YouTube has suspended Russell Brand’s monetization on his channel. Read: The AV Club
The BBC is removing Russell Brand appearances and shows from its BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds apps. Read: Radio Times
A Bluey video game debuts 17th November 2023 on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
Matt Bomer drama Fellow Travellers, not to be confused with Matt Bomer’s former series Travellers, debuts Oct 27.
Percy Jackson & The Olympians debuts Dec 20 on Disney+.
Hallmark is promising 40 all-new Christmas movies, not impacted by the strikes.
That’s the newsletter for today. It’ll be back tomorrow.