Amidst COVID-19, Disney+ Soars. Apple TV+ Not So Much

The Particle Debris article of the week is from Decider.

Now one might be properly suspicious of a title like that. Not to mention the coy invocation of Betteridge’s law. But the author actually makes good arguments and backs them up with inside sources as well as lots of data from Google Trends in the form of impactful charts.

In other words, this look at Google Trends implies that Apple TV+ has never quite had the brand resonance as either Netflix or Disney.

After looking at specific show performance, post The Morning Show, the data is depressing…

In other words, the decay is real. After it [The Morning Show. ] ended, though, it [viewership] dropped off a cliff. Worse, the new shows aren’t launching nearly as well as the initial batch…

There is a further, brutal comparison against The Mandalorian. All in all, this article paints a picture of a failure of imagination in the conceptual design of Apple TV+ shows after the initial rollouts of The Morning Show. and Dickinson.

I have noticed this myself. There is a certain spark missing from the follow-on shows that fails to ignite the imagination and drive one into habitual viewing. The data presented proves this. What shall Apple do now amidst a pause in production for some shows?

This analysis has to be of concern. Meanwhile, Disney+ soars.

The Week’s News Debris

ars technica reviews are essential reading. Here’s their review of the 2020 MBA: “MacBook Air 2020 review: The most boring Mac is among the best.” Unlike last week’s Particle Debris reference, this review goes much more into technical detail—which always delights me. You’ll love it too.

MBA 2020
Image credit: Apple

The Verge writes: “Why Amazon Got Out Of The Apple App Store Tax, And Why Other Developers Won’t.” To wit:

Out of nowhere, buttons to buy or rent movies appeared in the Amazon Prime Video app. It’s difficult to express how strange this is …

Author Bohn goes on to brilliantly, bluntly dissect this decision by Apple.

Suddenly, that rule appears to apply to all developers except those who have the leverage to cut a special deal with Apple. That’s the most damning way of putting it and the truth is perhaps a bit more nuanced. But if you wanted to cast that nuance aside and rail against metaphorical smoke-filled rooms where giant companies cut deals that aren’t offered to anybody else, well, I wouldn’t argue with you too much.

This is a great read.

• iOS 13.4 has some lingering problems that are good to be aware of. Forbes, always alert to Apple snafus, lists them. “Apple iOS 13.4 Is Causing Serious iPhone Problems.” Apple needs to up its game with iOS; a lifeline for those under lockdown.

• “What Will The New iPhone Be Called? The Name Has Just Been Revealed.” Could be genius.

• Finally,

Ahem. Replicator: Tea, Earl Grey, decaff.

Particle Debris is generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article(s) of the week followed by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

15 thoughts on “Amidst COVID-19, Disney+ Soars. Apple TV+ Not So Much

  • I’ve only watched mythic quest, very good, the morning show, very good and amazing stories, apart from the first episode, very disappointing. As someone said Apple need to throw up a lot of easy watch stuff. The likes of friends, on Netflix etc. It will keep people coming back, won’t cost too much and people will watch Apple shows in between.

  • John:

    The value of the Decider piece is that the analysis is data-driven and therefore evidence-based. It’s refreshing to read opinion that is based on shared observational data that the reader can evaluate for themselves. And, the assessments from that piece are sound; the data do not suggest that Apple’s strategy is working, rather the contrary, that it is not.

    As a casual consumer of television content (during my stint in the US, I have had the opportunity to take in a few shows), I have a couple of observations. Up front, these are based on a very limited and selective exposure to television content, so the generalisability of my observations to a broad content rollout strategy may be profoundly limited.

    First, in developing the brand, start with known success. There are already movies and TV shows that have been vetted through the public and are proven to be popular. Netflix did this in its earliest days. Amazon did this at its launch to attract viewership. Only later did they add original content, not all of which was successful. However, those failures were overcome by a library of proven content that retained paid subscribers. Both of these companies have become powerhouses of popular content. Apple should follow suit. Apple need at least a handful of shows that have a following in order to bring a loyal subscriber base to the service. Purchasing the rights to Star Trek might be too costly a reach, but something like The Expanse, which was discontinued by the SciFi channel would not have been, and was picked up by Amazon to great benefit. This is merely an example, and not a suggestion that Apple focus on sci-fi. The principle applies. Launching only with original content puts an enormous burden on nearly each of these being a success, which would be an anomaly in this industry.

    Second, just as we see creative start ups in the tech world that end up having broad appeal, we see this in the entertainment world. Apple need talent scouts to go out and find fresh talent and then give them some room to fail (I seem to recall SJ making this point about Apple’s own tech success). This does not rule out recruiting proven talent, like a Spielberg or an M. Knight Shyamalan, but by expanding the creative base with fresh, low cost talent that can be provided more funding should they prove successful, Apple organically grows its content base, based on demand. Both Netflix and Amazon have done this to proven effect. Importantly, such organic growth would help to shape the industry in Apple’s favour (or any company that perfects this formula).

    Third, while it’s important to be clear on underlying philosophy and objective, such as family oriented content, it is equally important to realise that there is a diversity of opinion out there of what that means and what would therefore qualify. What I like, and what my kids like, are not the same, but that does not invalidate either’s choices, especially when what my kids like is popular. Having a diverse team who scout for such content creators and their ideas is priceless. After all, if the viewing public don’t like it, Apple will know in a matter of weeks, and can cut their losses. That diversity of taste needs to be reflected amongst the recruiters of new production talent, and then be combined with the courage to let that new talent experiment and even fail. So long as there is appealing content on the service, subscribers will not punish Apple for those isolated failures. They will punish Apple for an unbroken series failures and duds.

    All of these principles are in harmony with Apple’s operating philosophy, and should be part of their DNA. That they are not displaying this with their Apple TV+ service may be a function of this being an unfamiliar industry for Apple, causing Apple to be uncharacteristically conservative, controlling and risk averse than they would be on more familiar ground, like tech hardware. However, an emerging industry is ripe for such risk, and provides opportunity to help shape that industry with novel content and approaches.

    If ever there were a time to adhere to that quintessential SJ modus operandus of ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish’, purchase some products of proven appeal, whilst taking a broad base of ‘educated’ risks, this industry would be it, and that time is now.

  • I have really enjoyed lots of the Apple TV+ content. There just isn’t enough of it. I hope Apple sticks with producing content for a while because doing so is a learning process and they have the bankroll to do it. But I would like them to bundle several things together. It would be nice to have both Apple TV+, Apple Music and a few other things for $15 bucks/month for the family.

    1. Yes a bundle would be nice. Currently for me Apple News+ is a wash, i like a few periodicals that I previously paid for hardcopy, I now read them online.

      Music I am very much appreciating and I have discovered a lot of new, or new to me, artists.

      As to the Apple TV device, be it + or =, there is a lot of free content that I like on channels such as PBS, TED, and YouTube.

  • I very much liked For All Mankind, The Morning Show, and Dickinson. I hope that new episodes will be available soon enough. Of course those shows are not for everyone, quite a few people enjoy Doctor Pimple Popper, Ow My Balls, and The Jerry Springer Show.

  • AppleTV shows are bland and predicable, especially Amazing Stories. They should shut it all down not because of the shows (everyone makes bad shows now and then) but because the people in charge couldn’t tell a good show from a boring one. When the people at the top are this clueless there’s no hope for salvation.

    1. Amazing Stories I would give you as somewhat predictable since I have seen all of the originals as well as all of the other kinds of shows like it. Twilight zone, Outer Limits… etc over the last 4 decades.
      I would have a hard time saying For All Mankind, Dickinson, or See are predictable.
      They were highly entertaining for me at least and not predictable.

      1. Ever have a word completely disappear from a post? I know I started that post with “Some” but now there’s no trace of it. I still stand by my statement that if the people in charge can’t tell the difference between bland and interesting they should either drop AppleTV+ or replace everybody who makes the decisions.

      2. Hopefully people will learn and grow in their jobs as apple bankrolls this process. Hopefully some truly gifted people will be allowed to flourish and rise to better decision making positions as this continues to roll out. Hopefully Apple listens and grows. I think more players in the market make for more interesting content for everyone, but Apple will have to learn and adapt and play a long game. Mostly they really haven’t in the past.

  • Well I can’t speak for anyone else, but our free year of AppleTV+ is pretty much going unused. We set it up, but none of Apple’s programs have been at all interesting. Once the free year is up we’ll likely drop it. I kinda get the feeling Apple will lose a huge portion of their subscriber base at the end of the year.

  • As I predicted AppleTV+ will be Apple’s Zune a billion dollar + failure. Apple’s due for some serious hubris payback; seems Apple should stick to the iOS toys of last 10 years – they dropped the ball on AR, AI, VR, EVs (where’s that car, Apple? It’s easy, right?) actually all they have is iToys to count on – I have no clue why they think they could get into entertainment; Disney basically ended AppleTV+ because of one important thing Apple apparently doesn’t get: content. 95% of commercial TV is garbage – it’s why this country ranks way below other countries in intelligence (and happiness) because we are spoon fed commercials and crap TV – NO other culture does that – so we get what we deserve – idiots programmed to sit like fat lumps eating ads – nice. RIP AppleTV+ we hardly knew ye.

    1. I hope not RIP just yet. Waiting for more seasons of a few more shows. Plus there should be some more coming out over the next months which might be worth a watch i should think….. that is once the pandemic begins to stabilize.
      Stay safe everyone.

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