Do we really need another streaming service? Both Apple and Disney think the answer is "yes." Of course, that's more about both companies wanting to get into the rapidly growing substitute solution for broadcast and cable TV, in order to reap the revenue benefits and stay relevant, than it is about whether consumers need another service.
That said, the business model of streaming TV is shockingly consumer-friendly. It relies far more on customer loyalty to quality serialized programming than cable TV's model, which is to have a monopoly on a community-by-community basis.
Rather than being stuck with unpopular providers like Comcast or Frontier, consumers can choose which streaming services to subscribe to, and can even start and stop the services whenever they want. Of course, broadband is a prerequisite, so the traditional Internet infrastructure vendors will get their cut no matter what.
The streaming business model relies heavily on unique and exciting programming. Premium cable channels like HBO and Showtime have long relied on programs like Game of Thrones and Homeland, respectively, to keep subscribers paying month after month. (Disclosure: ZDNet's parent company, CBS, owns Showtime)
For companies like Apple and Disney, late to the streaming party years after Netflix, Hulu, Britbox, and our own CBS All Access, compelling programming is absolutely essential.
That's why in March, when Apple announced Apple TV+, the company's new streaming service, it trotted out A-list celebrities like Oprah, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell to promote their new programs, all Apple exclusives.
We don't yet know the exact price of Apple TV+, but $10 month or so is a good bet. We also don't know exactly when the service will be available, but given the big Apple event coming up next week, we'll probably hear a strong pitch for Apple TV+ amidst the new iPhones and yearly Apple Watch update.
At last count, Apple has announced 34 original series and five movies but has provided details on just a handful. The company has also released three full trailers, which can give us a better idea of the kind of programming the company is offering. Let's look at each of them.
The Morning Show
Starring Aniston, Witherspoon, and Carell, The Morning Show is a dramatic look inside a fictional television show. It could well be considered the spiritual successor of Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Since Studio 60 lasted a mere one season on NBC and The Newsroom was pulled from HBO in just three seasons, let's hope this new drama has more staying power.
Emily Dickinson is credited with saying, "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul -- and sings the tunes without the words -- and never stops at all." Although known in adulthood as a bit of a recluse, Apple has somehow turned Dickinson's early life into a somewhat anachronistic 19th century period version of the classic teen drama. It's not for me, but if you're in for such a thing, you might like it.
For All Mankind
If you're not paying attention, you'd be forgiven for thinking this is just another dramatization of America's early space program. But it's not, and that makes it very interesting. For All Mankind is an alternate history, asking the question, "What would happen if the Soviets got to the moon first?" It's an interesting premise.
Should you subscribe?
Apple is not going to get your hard-earned money based on the number of shows on Apple TV+. At least out the gate, the streaming service will have far fewer programs than Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, or even CBS All Access. That said, the programs whose trailers we've seen thus far are compelling.
As for me, I probably won't subscribe immediately. I don't really have a lot of time for TV, and we already subscribe to a few premium streaming services. That said, once For All Mankind is available to binge-watch, I'll probably sign up for long enough to see it. Two of my favorite genres are space and alternate history, so that show definitely has my attention.
What about you? Are you sold based on any of these three trailers? Are there other Apple TV+ offerings, like the remake of Steven Spielberg's wonderful Amazing Stories, that have you interested? Let me know in the comments below.
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