Apple TV Plus vs Netflix: which is better?
With more video streaming services, it’s helpful to know what you can get from them before committing to a subscription; so, in this comparison we’ve pitted Apple TV+ against the OG streaming service in Netflix.
We’ve compared price, features, platform support and each library to give you an overview of what you can get.
How do they stack up against each other and are they worth subscribing to? Read on to find out.
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Netflix makes use of different pricing tiers. The Standard with Ad tier (£4.99 / $6.99) grants access to 1080p resolution and restricts viewing, concurrent streams, and downloads to two devices. The Basic tier is more expensive at £6.99 / $9.99, but comes without ads and only in HD (720p).
The Standard plan (£10.99 / $15.49) is in Full HD resolution, offers viewing on two screens at the same time, and downloadable content to two mobile devices. Premium (£15.99 / $19.99) brings 4K HDR to the table, with four screens and downloadable content to four devices.
Apple went in a different direction and followed Amazon’s one-size-fits-all pricing strategy, though it’s had a price jump since it launched. However, at £6.99 / $6.99, and with its support for 4K HDR/Dolby Vision/Dolby Atmos, it still undercuts Netflix’s premium tier significantly.
Paying a flat fee for HD or 4K content is arguably more convenient. And even with Apple TV+ going up in price in 2022, it’s still £9 cheaper than Netflix’s highest pricing tier.
In terms of which one is affordable, Apple TV+ is the easy winner. But which one offers the most value?
Netflix is available on a wide range of devices and smart TV platforms. It would probably be easier to list the platforms it doesn’t support. You can read our review for a more in-depth look at platform support, but you can count on Netflix being on Blu-ray players, smart TVs, game consoles, web browsers, Android, and Apple devices. It isn’t supported by the Humax Aura set-top box though.
Apple’s streaming is, as you’d expect, available on Apple’s own devices from the Apple TV box to iPhone and iPad.
It’s available on PlayStation and Xbox consoles: Android TV and players with support for Android 8.0 and higher and appears on Google TV and Chromecast with Google TV. Support for Android smartphones isn’t as comprehensive, however. You can also find it on smart TVs from Samsung, Panasonic, Hisense, and Sky. With AirPlay 2 you can also stream video content to compatible devices.
Netflix was the inspiration for many streaming services when it created its own original programming, starting with House of Cards and followed that up with Master of None and Stranger Things. In doing so, it carved an identity for itself.
It’s TV series are more popular and successful than its movies, with big hits such as Formula 1: Drive to Survive, Squid Game, Stranger Things, The Crown, Midnight Mass, Bojack Horseman and The Last Dance. It’s lost several big hitters though, with the Marvel series going to Disney+ and Star Trek: Discovery is now on Paramount+.
Its original films aren’t as good, and for every Roma, Marriage Story and Uncut Gems, there are clunkers like Thunder Force, The Ridiculous Six and The Mother.
In terms of overall content, there’s over 6,000 titles in the UK watch (films and TV) but that number is always changing as content arrives and leaves the service. Netflix’s libraries also change according to where you are in the world depending on licensing deals, so the UK has Friends, The Office (US) and the Studio Ghibli collection, while the US version doesn’t.
Apple’s approach has been to focus on original content or acquiring original films and TV series, only shelling out on licensed content every now and then (usually for children’s programming). As of May 2023, it has just under 100 series, with fewer than 40 films, docs, and specials. Apple TV Plus’ bread and butter is mainly TV series, which drop regularly enough with a few every month. With films it’s not as successful, with recent titles such as Ghosted landing with a thud although it can claim the first Best Picture for a streaming service in Coda.
Apple’s library isn’t as big as Netflix, but it does have live sports if your interest is more American-focused. You can watch Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer on the service. There are always rumours of a big for the Premier League rights too.
In terms of breadth of content, Netflix wins here with its far bigger library. But there’s something to be said about Apple’s more boutique approach – at least you won’t be spending hours trying to find something to watch.
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, and there’s no limit to how much you can download on Apple TV+ (at least on Apple devices). Netflix, on the other hand, lets you download up to 100 titles on a single device.
If you’re interested in a group party watch, Apple has its SharePlay feature, where you can share the experience of watching shows and films on a FaceTime call. Everyone needs access to the content whether through a sub or having bought it already. Netflix doesn’t have a similar feature.
Apple TV+ also has bonus content and interactive features buried within the hubs for each series and film, and they’re not all just the usual first looks and fluffy EPK stuff. Netflix does have bonus content but not as much and they’re usually very short in terms of runtime.
On Apple, one subscription offers six simultaneous streams. The TV app synchronises across devices, so you can pick up from where you left off. While you can add individual Apple TV accounts for the app, there aren’t any Apple TV+ subscription profiles as such. If you purchase a Family Sharing plan it effectively does the same thing in terms of different accounts and personalisation. Parental controls can be set up for any accounts that need to be restricted.
Netflix’s simultaneous streams depends on its pricing tiers, but the most that can be done is four on the Premium tier. There’s no family sharing plan, in fact it seems Netflix is still trying to clamp down on what it deems to be illegal password sharing. For those in the same household, you can have up to five profiles for a single Netflix account.
Which is better?
If it’s choice and a broader range of content to enjoy, from TV series to movies and reality TV series; Netflix is the much better option than Apple TV+. However, in our opinion, when it comes to quality and consistency of original content, we’d say Apple is the better of the two.
Both need to boost the quality of their film output, but at least Apple can say it was the first streamer to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Apple TV+ is also much cheaper, though its platform support isn’t as wide as Netflix. If you own an Apple device, then it’s well-integrated into the system but Android users are best served by Netflix.
Both are high quality services, but in general Netflix is the platform with the broader range of content and wider reach. To get similar picture and audio quality though, you’ll have to pay nearly double for a subscription than you would on Apple TV+.