Blog

All Reviews

Apple wants to be your one-stop streaming shop (except Netflix)

  March 25th, 2019  By Joe Supan

The revamped Apple TV app turned out to be a lot more about cosmetics than substance. While you won’t be able to pick and choose live TV channels, it could be a legitimately useful way to keep all of your shows and movies in one manageable place.

What It Is: One Place for Most of Your Streaming Subscriptions

The new Apple TV app aims to de-clutter the streaming experience by putting all of your subscriptions in one place. The evidence shows that this is a notable pain point for streamers: 55.5% of respondents in one study from TiVo said they would like the ability to browse content across all their TV services.

The jury’s still out on whether that process will be as seamless as Apple promises — or even more than, say, navigating a Fire TV/your current setup is today.

TV Channels for Apple
Screen capture: Apple

What It’s Not: Somewhere You Can Watch Netflix

As Apple lobbies for position as the one-stop streaming shop, it’s no surprise that there’d be some holdouts. Netflix — and its 139 million subscribers — will not be available on the new app.

As Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said at an event earlier this week, “Apple’s a great company. We want to have people watch our service — or our content on our service. And so we’ve chosen not to integrate into their service, because we prefer to have our customers watch our content in our service.”

Menu for Apple TV
Screen capture: Apple

What It Is: Curated Recommendations That Won’t Sell Your Data

Decision fatigue is a real thing when it comes to TV streaming: TiVo’s study found that 64.6% of consumers get frustrated trying to watch something on TV. This is where Apple aims to make its mark, using “advanced machine learning” to help you find shows and movies you actually want to watch.

As Cook put it, “Our vision for the Apple TV app is to bring together your favorite shows, movies, sports and news and make them available on all of your devices so you can spend less time looking for something to watch and more time enjoying it.” Of course, every streaming service employs recommendation algorithms, and they’re still hit or miss (please stop recommending me that Ted Bundy doc, Netflix). Time will tell whether Apple’s “curatorial expertise” is actually something different.

What It’s Not: A La Carte TV

Apple opened its discussion of the Apple TV app promising that you’ll “only pay for the channels you want.” While that’s true in some sense, it’s mostly just misleading. You won’t be able to handpick cable channels like ESPN and ABC, which has been something of a holy grail for live TV streaming. Instead, you’ll be able to subscribe to those channels’ standalone apps — and pay their corresponding monthly fees. The Apple TV app just gives you one place to watch them all together. There might be a slight discount if you subscribe through Apple, but specific prices won’t be released until May.

Magnified: Zooming in on the best of everything

Sign up for our email newsletter, Magnified, where we uncover surprising truths, go behind the scenes of our reviews, and arm you with great dinner party conversation.