I can’t be the only person that has had to have the conversation with friends and family members explaining the difference between Apple TV+ (the streaming service) and Apple TV (the app). Add in Apple TV, (the device,) and you you’ve got a bit of a marketing mess.
What Exactly is Apple TV+?
Worse still, the TV app does little to allay the confusion. Imagine the scenario – users get their new device (iPhone, Mac etc) and excitedly turn to the app to begin watching things like The Morning Show or Defending Jacob that they’ve heard about. They are then confronted with shows from HBO, the BBC and all manner of other providers. Worse, having been told this Apple streaming thing was free, they seem to have to pay for much of this content. It takes a bit of scrolling to initially to find the Apple TV+ channel containing the originals. Even I, a day-in-day-out Apple follower, took a moment to work out what exactly was going on the first time I tried to watch one of the shows. It really does not make a great a first impression.
When it comes to streaming, people are mostly used to Netflix. It is a simplE process. You pay for a Netflix subscription. You search for a show or movie. If Netflix has the rights to said show or movie it is immediately available at no extra cost. Amazon Prime Video is a little murkier, I accept, but I think it is probably still a bit clearer than Apple’s offering.
Anti-trust Concerns and the Post-iTunes Era
I also understand why, in the post-iTunes era, the TV app cannot simply be dedicated to Apple TV+. It is meant to be a hub for all sorts of video content. Furthermore, I’m sure after rows about the App Store, Apple must be acutely aware of potential antitrust issues that could arise if it looks like they are making it unduly difficult to find content from other providers.
And yet, it chose to call it’s streaming service TV+ and put it in the app with basically the same name and a host of other content. It chose to have multiple products with basically the same name. And the distinction is lost on many users.
Poor UI Holding Apple TV+ Back Against Competitors
All this confusion is surely holding the streaming service back. Not only does it make a bad first impression, it reduces its ‘stickability’ – the moments where people stay in the app and move from one show to the next in the way they do with Netflix. Whilst having a significantly smaller catalogue doesn’t help, I also think a somewhat ill thought out UI contributes to the problem.
We don’t get much data on Apple TV+. However, we know it is trailing its competitors in terms of subscription numbers and breakout hits. If it is hard for people to understand straight off, they are not going to bother sticking around when there is so much else on offer. It is a real shame, because lots of the content on Apple TV+ is excellent.
The joy of most Apple products is it is obvious what they are and how they work. That is not yet the case with Apple TV+.