Apple Goes After Netflix’s Content Quality

Posted on July 1, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Apple, Apple TV+, Netflix with 23 Comments

When Apple launched its subscription streaming service earlier this year, there was a lot of talk about the content the company was making for the service. Although it had some of the biggest names from the entertainment industry, the catalog of shows revealed weren’t really mind-blowing.

Apple’s streaming service Apple TV+ launches later this year, and the company is working on a bunch of different original shows and movies for the platform. But Apple has something big to worry about: Netflix and its huge catalog of original shows and movies.

Here’s the thing, though: Apple really wants you to believe that the company is taking a different approach to its content than Netflix. Apple’s CEO already said its service can coexist with Netflix, but Apple’s head of Services Eddy Cue said in an interview with The Times that the company’s approach to content is very different.

Apple TV+ will be creating the “best” content, not the “most”. Cue is obviously taking a dig at Netflix here, which is expected to spend a whopping $15 billion on Netflix Originals this year, beating Apple’s $2 billion. “Their [Netflix’s] motto is to create a lot of content so there’s always something for you to watch, and it’s working really well. There’s nothing wrong with that model, but it’s not our model,” Cue said.

Cue specifically talked about Apple’s upcoming The Morning Show, starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, which is apparently “really, really good” on the quality bar. At the end of the day, though, Netflix already has a really good lineup of popular, quality shows that bring in millions of subscribers, including critically acclaimed shows like Stranger Things, Black Mirror, Narcos, etc.

When Cue was asked about Apple’s lack of expertise in the entertainment industry–something that’s been brought up even before Apple TV+ was a thing–he handled it really well. “That’s a great question, one we asked ourselves too. Look, we don’t know a lot about television other than we are big consumers of it, but that doesn’t quite qualify you as an expert by any means. The thing that we’re smart about is when we don’t know about something we want to get into, we go and find the best people for it,” Cue said, listing all the big names the company has hired to work on its new original content.

There is a lot we still don’t know about Apple TV+, including the pricing. The service is launching this Autumn, and it could either be a huge success or a massive failure. It’s really hard to tell whether anyone will actually subscribe to the service apart from diehard Apple customers. Most consumers already subscribe to things like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu, so whether they really want to add yet another service to that list is a big mystery. That obviously doesn’t only apply to Apple TV+, and it will be a big concern for many other streaming services launching in the near future, including Disney’s own streaming service.

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “Apple Goes After Netflix’s Content Quality”

  1. skane2600

    What constitutes the "best" content is always going to be subjective but what any streaming service needs are numerous titles that are popular enough to get people to subscribe.

  2. Stooks

    "The Morning Show, starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston"

    I seriously think I read about Apple green lighting this show 2 years ago? Seriously WTF is taking so long to roll this stuff out???? No dates, no price no nothing.

    Apple was lucky with music they were a big player in digital music before they offered a subscription service to take on Spotify. Video is a completely different story and they are years and years late. It will be interesting if they are successful with their G-rated offering.

  3. datameister

    "Best" is a totally subjective thing when it comes to entertainment. Not to mention you have to trust that someone is going to make the "best" content before you actually get to see it. Hollywood is full of studios that funded movies which looked good on script but flopped on execution. I mean, how many studios say, "this looks like crap, but well fund it anyway?"

    I'm sure HBO would love to have every show be as popular as Game of Thrones, but so far they don't seem to have many shows that most people consider to be the "best".

    I guess we'll eventually see how Apple handles those kinds of variables.

  4. jgraebner

    Possibly the biggest question mark with Apple's service is whether or not they plan to license content in addition to their original productions. So far, they haven't given any strong indication that they do. I can't really think of any other comparably prominent service that is exclusively built on originals.

    Netflix, HBO, Showtime, Hulu, and Amazon Prime all started out licensing existing movies and TV programs before they ever started producing original content and all of them still have a lot of licensed content alongside their originals. Other new players such as CBS All-Access, Disney+, and Warner/AT&T's upcoming service all come from parent companies with large existing content libraries that the services can offer.

    If Apple really does plan to rely only on their own original content, then they are going to have enormous pressure for that content to be both high quality and highly buzz-worthy, which don't always go hand in hand. I would also tend to think they are going to have to come in at a price that is quite a bit lower than the competitors that are offering much larger libraries. I suspect that Disney's decision to price their service at $6.99/month with no commercials is going to make the pricing problem an especially difficult one.

  5. lvthunder

    Speak for yourself about the really mind-blowing. I think that series about what would happen if the Soviets beat us to the moon sounds great and really interesting. The Morning Show sounds similar to Murphy Brown and that was popular back in the day.

    It sounds like Apple is modeling Apple TV+ to be closer to HBO than to Netflix. Have a few shows on at a time instead of a fire hose. They hope to catch the next Game of Thrones.

    Will that be successful? Who knows. It depends on how good the content is. I think it's a waste of time speculating on what's going to happen in the future, but I know I've seen enough to give it a try when it comes out.

  6. mattbg

    It's hard to know what they are trying to say here. Netflix has a lot of filler content, but it also has some quality content that makes people want to subscribe to Netflix. So, what are they saying? That they will provide the quality content but no filler content? That there will not always be something for you to watch (and that is a good thing)?

    They can't spend as much on content as Netflix, anyway - Apple as a company and as a stock has different expectations of profitability compared to Netflix, and Apple's size of potential audience is limited by its dependence on Apple devices (for now).

    However, the way that TV+ fits into TV - as a module alongside other channels - it actually makes sense that there should not always be something for you to watch. There needs to be room for the other partners in the TV service if it's going to go anywhere.

    So, the price will be really important. It needs to be cheap, yet this is Apple we're talking about. I almost get the feeling it doesn't work without being part of a bundle - i.e. mix and match some number of channels with TV+ as a base part of any bundle.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to mattbg:

      It means they compare themselves more towards HBO and not Netflix. They want to have the next Game of Thrones on Apple TV+ instead of having a bunch of shows to entertain everyone like Netflix.

  7. Thom77

    What Apple means by "best" content is "most woke".

    I've seen some reports on their original content, and so far, it is obvious that those shows are not made for me, which is fine, but in such an already established marketplace, I dont see the wisdom in making shows that are for specialized and niche audiences.

    The first episode of season 8 of Game of Thrones had over 150,000 known seeds on torrent sites. This is absurdly high. Dont ask me how I know.

    And that show had a wide ranging audience. It was culturally relevant, reaching a success Apple (and others) could only dream of ... and it reached torrented records.

    Are people going to sign up for Apples woke original content that caters to a smaller demographic, when they were unwilling to sign up for HBO Go to watch GOT, one of the most popular shows in history?

    • BrianEricFord

      In reply to Thom77:

      What would you consider to be specialized or “niche” about any of the shows Apple has announced thus far?

      (Any more so than any number of wildly popular shows on other streaming or traditional outlets?)

      Leaving aside any potential bias you may have, of course.

      • lvthunder

        In reply to BrianEricFord:

        He can't leave behind his bios. That's all he is basing his decision on. He also sounds like someone who doesn't pay for the content he consumes so the content creators should ignore him.

      • waethorn

        In reply to BrianEricFord:

        Apple said that they will include mostly "diversity content" and "family-friendly entertainment", which at one time was considered contradictory. It'll be an SJW's wet dream come true.

        • Thom77

          In reply to Waethorn:

          I think the problem Apple is going to have is that its 10x easier (and more successful) to hijack content with their agenda then have original content with it

          The new religion of Social Justice hijacked Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Marvel. The audience was already so invested in it that they put up with it, complained, but still watched, and the Warriors then claim success.

          But look at original content like the new Star Trek Discovery and Batgirl ... NOBODY was invested in it already, so they will easily just watched something else.

          If Apple was smart, they would hire Tim Allen for a show. Now THATS Diversity. But they won't, because they have agenda to push.

          • skane2600

            In reply to Thom77:

            Game of Thrones? Seriously? Yeah all that female nudity and explicit violence is so "woke". Add to that the 2 or 3 black characters in a cast of 100+, that's diversity run amok.

          • jgraebner

            In reply to Thom77:

            I think you just need to get used to the fact that movies and TV shows are going continue to have women and non-whites in major roles going forward whether you like it or not.

            • Thom77

              In reply to jgraebner:

              Thats fine. The point is ... will a Netflix alternative catered to mostly women succeed in a marketplace that is already full of streaming services that cater to THE GENERAL PUBLIC AS A WHOLE.

              • skane2600

                In reply to Thom77:

                You're jumping to conclusions. Has Apple made a statement that they intend to focus primarily on women as customers? Is there enough content that has been announced that we can draw that sort of conclusion? Is there really such a thing as women-only entertainment?

            • Greg Green

              In reply to jgraebner:

              If that’s all SJW was few would have a problem with it. Instead creators subordinate the story to some political or non political goal, then politicize their defense when criticized for having a weak or inaccurate story.

        • skane2600

          In reply to Waethorn:

          Yes, there was a time when I was a kid that having a black person on TV wasn't family-friendly but thankfully that time has passed. So tired of all the complaining about the imaginary SJW's.

  8. glenn8878

    Netflix will soon lose Disney content so they will be in a crunch. Netflix has too much dystopia content, which is just depressing. Netflix is certainly getting better and it's much better than Amazon Prime content. Still, this just proves streaming and cable don't have enough good content for viewers to watch. A good series is always a gem and hard to find or create. All these services seem to only skew one political point of view and world outlook. This limits their ability to expand their audiences.

  9. waethorn

    "Most consumers already subscribe to things like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu, so whether they really want to add yet another service to that list is a big mystery"

    Did that work for cable?

    • lvthunder

      In reply to Waethorn:

      I would say yes that worked for cable. But also there isn't anything saying you can't bounce between these services. You don't have to subscribe to them all at the same time.

  10. dontbe evil

    "best" ... it's always funny read an apple fanboy blogger article