The shroud of mystery surrounding Apple’s TV streaming service has been lifted. We know its name, release date, price and what’s coming to the streaming platform. In light of these facts, how well does it measure up against the streaming behemoth that is Netflix?
Apple has had experience with streaming services with Apple Music, but video streaming is a whole different kettle of fish. Despite the company’s confidence in its service, there’s no guarantee that Apple TV Plus will be a roaring success when it launches.
In addition, Apple is up against established players in Netflix and Amazon, with Disney+ on the horizon. It does have the benefit of one update on iOS opening up access to around 1.4bn Apple devices.
However, more entrants in the video streaming market complicates matters, and while you’ll get those folk who will dive in, others will be unwilling to fork out for yet another service.
Below, we’ve compared what we know about Apple TV Plus against Netflix. So how well does it stack up, and is it worth subscribing to? Read on to find out.
Apple TV Plus vs Netflix – Pricing
Netflix uses different pricing tiers for its content. The Basic (£5.99/$8.99) plan grants access to standard definition (SD) content – who wants that? – and restricts viewing and downloads to just one device.
The Standard plan (£8.99/$12.99) bumps up to HD resolution, viewing on two screens at the same time, and downloadable content to two mobile devices. Premium (£11.99/$15.99) brings 4K HDR to the table, with four screens and downloadable content to four devices.
Apple has followed Amazon’s one-size-fits-all pricing strategy, undercutting Netflix with a price of £4.99. Paying a flat fee for HD or 4K content is arguably more convenient. And with Apple TV Plus starting so low, it comes in £7 cheaper than Netflix’s highest pricing tier.
To entice further, anyone who buys an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod Touch from September 10 onwards will receive a free subscription to Apple TV Plus for a year.
Apple TV Plus vs Netflix − Platform support
Netflix is available on every device and smart TV platform imaginable. It would probably be easier to list the platforms it doesn’t support.
That says plenty about Netflix’s reach; it’s wide and comprehensive. If there’s a device that can connect to the internet, then the smart money is on Netflix being on it.
The same can’t be said about Apple, despite the proliferation of its devices around the world. Apple’s walled-garden approach to content worked for the company in the past. However, with so many devices available, restricting content to Apple devices feels outdated.
Apple is clearly going to make its iOS devices the main priority, but it’s taken steps to widen its orbit. The Apple TV app launched on Samsung smart TVs mid-2019, and on the Roku platform in October, with the TV app expected to come to Amazon Fire TV, Sony and Vizio platforms at an unspecified date in the future.
And let’s not forget that through AirPlay 2 you can stream video content to compatible devices. Select LG TVs received the update in July, and owners of a few Sony TVs should be getting AirPlay 2 some time this year. So, support is growing, but it isn’t as ubiquitous as Netflix.
Related: What is AirPlay 2?
Apple TV Plus vs Netflix − Content
Netflix was the inspiration for many streaming services when it created its own original programming.
It began with House of Cards and followed that up with Master of None and Stranger Things. In doing so, it carved an identity for itself.
Throw in the (now defunct) Marvel TV series Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage et al, worldwide distribution deals for Black Mirror, Star Trek: Discovery and Breaking Bad, and Netflix cornered the online TV market for popular and engaging TV shows.
And then we have the films, which aren’t always as successful. However, the likes of Okja, Roma, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, and The Irishman have created plenty of buzz, and Netflix’s model has brought it much success. Not everything is a hit, but the perception is that it’s on to more winners than losers.
Apple’s approach is typical of the company’s past approach, which can be summed up as “stars in your eyes”. Apple has cultivated a bevy of talent in Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, J.J. Abrams, Rashida Jones, Reese Witherspoon and Spike Lee among many, many others.
That’s cause enough to be optimistic about the quality of Apple’s programming, but only a few of the shows look interesting (For All Mankind being one). None looked like they were pushing the needle on the boundaries of TV.
In addition, Apple won’t necessarily be taking the approach of releasing all episodes of TV shows at once, which seems old-fashioned in this age of binge-watching. Up to three episodes of the first series that premiere on the service will be available to watch, with the rest arriving on a weekly basis. Some shows will drop all episodes at once, but Apple hasn’t disclosed which ones.
The list of shows premiering when the it launches include The Morning Show, See, Dickinson, For All Mankind, Oprah, Helpsters and The Elephant Queen, with Truth Be Told and Servant arriving in the weeks afterwards.
It isn’t a lineup that will give Netflix’s established library anything to worry about – at least not yet.
Apple TV Plus vs Netflix − Features
Both services have adopted HDR10 and Dolby Vision, locking HDR10+ out of yet another streaming service.
Both services also support Dolby Atmos object-based surround sound. If your TV supports it, you should be able to get a better audio experience from streaming content.
Content can be watched online or offline, although Apple TV Plus appears to have a download limit. This implies that only a few episodes at a time can be downloaded. Netflix, on the other hand, lets you download up to 100 titles on a single device – generous, to say the least.
And that’s all the information about Apple TV Plus features we have for now – until we start using it. Will there be an option for multiple users, or just one? Will you be able to change subtitles, so they can be more readable? And what about voice control? You’d have thought that Siri would be a part of the service’s interface, but to what degree will the voice assistant be integrated?
We’ll be able to answer these questions and more once Apple TV Plus launches on November 1st.