Apple TV+ vs Netflix: Comparing apples and oranges
Apple has officially announced its long-rumoured streaming service, but will the fruits of its labour be enough to take a bite out of the Netflix-dominated streaming market?
Apple's long-rumoured TV streaming service is officially on its way. In a special keynote announcement, Tim Cook and Co. announced Apple TV+, a new cable/Internet TV streaming platform set to launch in the US this spring (somewhere between March and June).
We already know so much about the kind of original content that will be produced exclusively for the service, but there are still plenty of unanswered questions. What we do know is that it isn't really a direct Netflix competitor but rather an all-encompassing service that houses various paid services like HBO and Starz, as well as a fresh slate of original content.
Price: How will Apple TV+ compare with Netflix?
The reveal ceremony came and went without so much as a breath uttered around pricing. Previous rumours reported by ReCode suggest the service will be priced competitively against Netflix's US$9.99 Basic tier, whereas others report that the Apple TV+ service itself as well as all original content will be free – a tantalising hook to get you using the service and paying for the content provided via third-party services in Apple Channels.
Free is a fairly competitive price!
Apple also announced that the service would automatically support Family Sharing, allowing for five simultaneous streams. How this will work with the third-party services' own device limits is yet to be seen but five devices is more than Netflix's most expensive plan allows for, which is capped at four simultaneous streams.
Features: Does Apple TV+ or Netflix have better streaming features?
Precise details on Apple TV+ were few and far between in this announcement keynote, with the focus swayed heavily towards the type of content and creators that are producing original shows for the platform.
With that said, we do know the platform will be on-demand and ad-free, which is on par with what Netflix offers.
Despite the general lack of details on Apple TV+, Apple did confirm that it would support offline play for all available titles. Currently, Netflix only offers a portion of its library for offline viewing.
Apple TV+ is a part of the Apple TV ecosystem, which is getting a huge overhaul itself. It's not hard to figure out which book Apple has taken a page out of here, with the general user interface and dedicated Kids section clearly inspired by Netflix's benchmark design.
Content: Will Apple TV+ or Netflix have better content?
This question is a bit of a moot point. While there's a whole line-up of quality original shows in the works at Apple, users also have access to everything offered by a vast selection of cable channels (at a price). HBO, Starz, Sundance Now, SHOWTIME, CBS All Access and Cinemax are just a few of the channels on offer and, collectively, they offer a broader range of quality content than Netflix could ever dream of.
In terms of what's included in the base service though, we'll have to wait and see how Apple's original content rates in comparison to Netflix Originals. We did get a sample of the creators working on exclusive content in the Apple keynote: Steven Spielberg, Sara Bareilles, Kumail Nanjiani, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell, Alfre Woodward, Jason Momoa and Oprah Winfrey were just a few of the celebrities that jumped on stage to big note the upcoming service.
Oprah Winfrey alone is signed up for at least three separate original productions: Toxic Labour, a documentary series that tackles damaging workplace culture, a multi-part documentary series about mental health issues and a book club series where Oprah interviews her favourite authors.
Devices: Which service has more compatible device options?
This is where it gets interesting. Netflix takes the crown for device compatibility, there are no two ways about it. The streaming goliath has worked for years to get the world's most popular streaming platform onto set-top boxes, video game consoles and more. Most notably, it's managed to weasel its way onto region-specific devices, like Fetch TV and, more recently, Foxtel iQ here in Australia.
However, in a first for Apple (which typically gates its services behind iOS), its TV app, and by extension Apple TV+, will become available on a selection of Smart TVs, including but not limited to Samsung, Sony and LG. The Apple TV app is also coming to Mac for the first time ever (better late than never?).
So while Apple is putting one foot forward in terms of device compatibility, it's still a far cry from Netflix's comprehensive hardware offering. Most notably, there was no mention of compatibility for game consoles like PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and not a single mention of PC or Android compatibility.
Why wait when you can compare Australian streaming services today
So is Apple TV+ worth the wait? We'll need more information on its Australian release plans before deciding whether its a viable replacement for your Netflix subscription but in the meantime, why not compare streaming services that are already available in Australia.