Apple launched its Apple TV+ service on November 1st, 2019, taking on established juggernaut Netflix at a game it practically invented (not to mention the half-dozen or so other streaming services). So comparing Apple TV+ and Netflix, how exactly does Apple’s new service stack up?
Getting Apple TV+ is pretty easy. Apple is offering a 7-day trial for new subscribers and anyone who’s bought an eligible piece of Apple hardware gets a whole year of Apple TV+ — along with everyone in their Family Sharing group.
So if you do give Apple TV+ a go, what can you expect coming from Netflix? There’s a world of difference between the two at launch, starting with the price. Apple Music Student subscribers will reportedly get Apple TV+ for free as well.
Before we dive into the comparison, know that this comparison is a bit apples (no pun intended) and oranges for the moment. Both their strategic approach and the content that each service offers is very different — most people will likely be considering whether they should add Apple TV+ to their list of subscriptions rather than use it as an alternative to Netflix.
That said, here’s what you need to know about how they differ.
Apple TV+ vs Netflix: Pricing
Apple TV+ only offers a single pricing tier, at $4.99 a month. In contrast, Netflix offers three streaming tiers. The Basic tier costs $8.99 a month, only streams in standard-definition and is limited to a single stream. The Standard tier costs $12.99 a month. It allows for two streams and high-definition streaming. The Premium tier will set you back $15.99 a month. it allows for four streams and resolutions up to 4K.
As mentioned, this is a bit apples and oranges, since we have to take the actual content on offer into account. However, based simply on stream quality and number of users for the price, Apple has Netflix beat here. The streaming quality on offer is up to 4K and offers what is possibly the best bitrate of any current streaming service. Up to six Family Sharing members can use a single subscription as well, beating Netflix Premium’s four.
Apple TV+ vs Netflix: Content selection
The launch selection of shows for Apple TV+ is rather thin on the ground, with what amounts to a number of “tasters” in several different genres. If you’re dedicated to watching every single show we know of today, it’s possible to see it all within the trial period. Clearly Apple will be bringing more content to the table, but the amount of original and third-party content available to Netflix subscribers is staggering. With literally thousands of shows, there’s simply no comparison.
In terms of content quality, that’s largely subjective. Netflix has multiple original shows that have been praised by both critics and general audiences. The production values of Apple’s shows are not in question, but whether they stack up critically is largely subjective. Audience scores for Apple’s shows seem to be doing well despite rough initial critical reception. Overall however, Netflix still has a massive advantage here.
Apple TV+ vs Netflix: Apps
The Netflix app is a dedicated piece of software that’s the result of much refinement over the years. It’s packed with features and has the famous Netflix algorithms running in the background, ensuring your eyeballs land on the content you’re most likely to like.
Apple, on the other hand, hasn’t created a bespoke application for their new service. Instead, they’ve simply added Apple TV+ as one of many sources of content in the existing Apple TV app.
There are two main problems with this. The first is that the app is rather spartan at the moment and not particularly intuitive. The second is that your subscription content is mixed up with paid shows and movies that aren’t part of the deal. This makes for a very different experience since, with Netflix, if you see a show you can watch it.
It would be nice if Apple TV+ does eventually get dedicated software to improve the use experience, but as it stands it feels a little tacked-on. That’s another aspect to consider with Apple TV+ — while Netflix is essentially a universal app at this point, you can’t even stream Apple TV+ content on some platforms like Chromecast and Android TV without some significant workarounds.
Netflix wins here handily.
Apple TV+ vs Netflix: Device support
On that note, it seems that Netflix will run on a toaster these days. You can still use the app on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, which are ancient in technological terms. Just about every smart TV, set-top player and mobile device has a version of the Netflix app. As mentioned, it’s universal.
With Apple Music, Apple realized that they needed to appeal to audiences outside of their hardware ecosystem, which is why you will find Apple Music on the Google Play Store. Likewise, all Apple hardware that supports the latest version of the Apple TV app can use the service.
However, specific smart TV models, Roku devices and Amazon Fire TV devices will also get the app. Android users don’t have an app yet, but you do have the (clunky) option of simply watching the show in a mobile browser by visiting tv.apple.com. And it’s not compatible with Chromecast at all right now unless you want to cast the show from a browser on a desktop.
Apple TV+ vs Netflix: The verdict
Apple TV+ has a long way to go before making that $4.99 monthly price tag feel like good value for money. However, many (most?) Apple TV+ subscribers at this point likely have access to the service for free via purchasing a new Apple hardware product. We’ll have to reevaluate value in the future. Also, new seasons of launch shows are inevitable, and there are plenty of releases in the pipeline.
Can you replace your Netflix subscription with Apple TV+ today? No. Are the shows on offer in Apple TV+ must-watch content? That depends on your taste. However, the 7-day trial means you can judge for yourself at no risk, so why not go for it? Be sure to check back on 9to5Mac for the latest news on Apple TV+.
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