Color me brutally honest. I do not like Apple TV. More specifically, I do not like Apple TV 4K. Nathan and I own one, we use it occasionally, but the overall experience is less than cable TV’s remote.
Apple TV 4K is something of a paradox. The selections are great– only the interwebs itself has more content. Navigation is horrible. The Apple TV remote is horrible. The latter two items make a strong benefit part of a weak experience. So, why is Apple TV 4K looking good right now?
TV vs. Change
Count it as common knowledge that cable TV companies are shedding customers. The trend is on. Streaming video is the new way to watch TV. Apple TV is about streaming video and the choices are enormous in number. Navigation is the pain.
This week I read about AT&T which lost another 1.3-million TV customers because buying DirecTV was a dumb idea while selling DirecTV was a great idea. AT&T has lost over 5-million customers in just the past three years.
That’s not the kind of business model you want.
Let’s do some math. Apple has 1-billion customers. Apple TV+– the subscription version– will be free to perhaps 300-million customers over the next year or so (free subscription with each hardware purchase).
Those are big numbers.
Now, let me compare those with AT&T which has just over 20.4-million satellite-and-wirelines subscribers, and a mere 1.1-million streaming TV subscribers (of that last number, one third have dropped off in the past year).
See the trend? What’s going on?
Apple has been in the streaming TV and movie business for many years, but not the subscripton game. That is new. That explains why Apple Arcade is bargain priced at $4.99 a month. That explains why Apple TV+ is bargain priced at $4.99 a month.
What makes Apple TV look good?
It’s a single location where you can get to almost any kind of content you want; free form or subscription. Major cable TV companies like Spectrum have an Apple TV app. Those 1.5-billion or so Macs, iPhones, and iPads can stream to Apple TV via AirPlay. Plus, content vendors duke it out.
Apple TV has apps for Sling TV, YouTube TV, ESPN, PlayStation Vue, Amazon Prime Video, plus support for PlayStation and XBox, and a dozen other streaming video services. The list is long and growing. HBO Now. Showtime. Starz. Most major cable TV and broadcast TV networks also have Apple TV apps.
Cable TV does not have it all. Apple TV comes close to having everything we want to view from one somewhat clumsy and unintuitive applications, but, hey, it’s everything. Compared to what cable TV offers, compared to OTA (over the air), compared to individual streaming services, Apple TV 4K is looking pretty good these days.