Apple TV+ is great. I think it’s done a whole lot right in the sub-3 months since it launched. But, right now, Apple TV+ is what Apple was to Microsoft in the 1990s. Sure, the quality is there, but it’s a tiny bit player next to the likes of Netflix and Disney+. To truly live up to its potential, Apple TV+ needs to make some big strides forward in 2020.
Here’s what I think needs to change.
Fix the Apple TV app
Apple once proclaimed that the future of television was apps. Judging by Apple’s own TV app it’s not! The app feels messy in a way that’s surprising for a company like Apple that generally makes software that “just works.” Apple TV+ gets lost in the shuffle among all the other content Apple presents on the app.
Why not make it its own separate tab? There’s a chance that Apple is worried that this would cause antitrust issues, akin to how Microsoft foisted Internet Explorer on Windows users. But there’s no doubt that it makes for a less coherent viewing experience.
2020 goal: Multi user-accounts in Apple TV+
This is probably the most minor point on the list, although it ties in with the question of usability. Apple TV+ already offers family sharing. But it also requires users to sign in and out with their Apple ID if they’re going to get their list of what they’re currently watching. Netflix, on the other hand, lets users sign in and out of profiles more easily. It offers kid-friendly profiles that filters out the adult content.
Right now, this isn’t such a big issue. Apple TV+ has a very small selection of shows. But when the library grows, it will want to incorporate recommendations more prominently. Multi-user accounts would be crucial.
Score a breakout hit
Yes, I fully admit that this is not easy. So far, Apple TV+ executives have done a great job selecting shows. They’ve covered a wide range of genres, and generally done so successfully. Drama? The Morning Show. Fantasy-action? See (soon with 100% more Dave Bautista.) Comedy? The upcoming Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet. Spooky horror? Servant. And so on. They’ve got the big names to star and create shows.
Apple is also making a concerted effort to win awards, thereby raising awareness. That goal is just starting to pay off. But Apple TV+ has yet to secure its Game of Thrones or House of Cards That is to say it doesn’t yet have a watercooler show that will sell the service to people who will otherwise feel like they’re missing out.
In a crowded media landscape, that’s tough to do. But Apple will need to do this if they really want to make waves. It needs its own Baby Yoda.
More content dammit
Apple TV+ stresses quality over quantity. That’s a good ethos to have, but a TV streaming service needs to have some quantity as well. Right now, Apple TV+ is anemic. For the last few weeks, Apple TV+ has added just two new episodes per week. Now that Truth Be Told has hit its season finale, next week it might just get one 30-minute episode of Servant. New shows are coming in February, but there’s still a total lack of new content each week.
While Apple TV+ execs are commissioning a whole bunch of shows, there’s a reason the likes of Netflix and Disney+ launched with a library of content, alongside their original shows. Sure, Disney owns a growing piece of the media landscape circa 2019. But Apple has the resources to buy up a studio or back catalog. Imagine if Friends, previously the most-watched show on Netflix, was only available on Apple TV+. Or, heck, if they bought Netflix. Or the rights to a major sporting event like Amazon did recently with Premier League soccer games. Or an archive of classic movies. Or. Or. Or.
Simply put: Apple TV+ needs more to watch. Without it, it’s going to lag behind. Picture what Apple Music would be like if it launched only with Apple Music Originals. If you didn’t like U2 or Imagine Dragons, you’d be sorely disappointed.
Apple TV+ in 2020: Can Apple afford to do this?
The first year of Apple TV+ is about figuring out the kinks. No TV company comes out of the gate as a major player. And Apple’s a tech company, not a TV or movie company.
As exciting as it is when Apple enters a new market, it normally takes a few iterations before products live up to their potential. The first-gen Mac was more about its promise than its spec. The iPhone took a while to hit its stride. The Apple Watch wasn’t a “must have” until, arguably, the Apple Watch Series 4. And so on.
I really want to see Apple TV+ be a hit, though. I’ve been waiting for Apple to revolutionize the way we view content for a few years now. I love the shows it’s debuted so far. The service is arriving on new smart TVs in 2020, increasing its penetration. But there’s still more to be done.
What changes would you like to see Apple make to Apple TV+? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.