Looking at it objectively as a consumer of entertainment content, I think Apple TV+ is a horrible deal. No wonder they’re giving it away. I’m way more interested in Disney+ than I am in Apple TV+. And I don’t think I’m alone.
Thrifty, but looking for value
Call me a Yankee spendthrift if you want, but I’m just old-fashioned cheap. I’m one of those people who runs their stuff into the ground before they replace it. I have a fourth-generation Apple TV, but I haven’t gotten a 4K TV to connect to it yet, so I have no reason to upgrade there. The Mac I’m writing this on is a 2012 13-inch MacBook Pro which I’ve kept alive on Catalina with RAM and and SSD transplant, rather than replacing it with a newer model.
Up until July I was using an iPhone 6 Plus. I finally replaced it with an iPhone XR – it gave up the ghost just shy of the finish line of the new 11 intro. No regrets, though – the old one gave me almost five years of faithful service. Bottom line is that this is an “off” year for me for Apple hardware upgrades – I’m sitting on the sidelines and just nursing my gear along.
That also means I’m in the dubious position of needing to pay for Apple TV+ if I want it, because I don’t get the one-year subsidy that folks who have bought new hardware since mid-September are eligible to receive. So I’ve got more of a critical eye about the value of this new service than I probably would otherwise, and let me just say, I think Apple TV+’s value stinks right now. I have no idea why anyone would willingly pay for it. There just isn’t enough there. It’s cheap enough, at $5 per month, but the value is missing for me.
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Setting a high bar
When you factor in the cost of cable and the music and video streaming services we already subscribe to, our entertainment budget is more or less locked up. When a new service comes along, whether it’s Apple TV+, Disney+, or others, the value proposition needs to be really high in order for us to subscribe to it. Even at $5, $8, $12 per month – whatever it might be – that adds up over time. It’s money we could be using to save and invest or just to pay other bills.
That’s meant some hard choices that have forced me to get over FOMO. For example, I’m still not feeling CBS All Access, despite the fact that I’m a Star Trek fan going back practically to infancy. I’ve been watching the show since I was in preschool and am an O.G. Trekker through and through, but I still can’t bring myself to pay for CBS All Access mainly for the privilege of watching Discovery and, now, Short Treks, and Picard.
And right now, I’m just not seeing it for Apple TV+ either. Without the huge exclusive licensed catalog that other services have launched with, there just isn’t enough there there to make me excited. And what they do have runs hot and cold with me. Compare that with Disney+. I have to say, our household is a lot more excited about stuff like The Mandalorian, or some of the Marvel stuff that Disney+ has planned for 2020.
A base to build on
When it comes to assessing value, I have to look at the whole picture. Both Apple TV+ and Disney+ are starting out small when it comes to new, original programming – a handful of new dramas, comedies, family programs, documentaries. Neither is really that remarkable right out of the gate.
Where Disney+ beats Apple TV+, hands down, is in the back-catalog of entertainment that I want to watch. There’s just a lot more to watch right off the bat, compared to Apple TV+. What’s more, they’ve articulated a much broader vision of what the service is going to become as time goes on. That’s still very much a mystery to me when it comes to Apple.
What Apple TV+ is going to look like months down the road is a mystery. And while I might like to watch mysteries on the services I subscribe to, I don’t want my entertainment budget to be one.
Is Apple TV+ a better value to you than Disney+? Or vice versa? Are you content to pay for them both? Or neither? Let me know in the comments.