Magid: Thumbs up for Disney+ but not for Apple TV+

Magid: Thumbs up for Disney+ but not for Apple TV+

If Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs were still alive, I have a feeling he would be very proud of his company’s new streaming service.

Larry Magid 

I’m not talking about the Apple TV+ service that Apple launched earlier this month but the new service from his other company, The Walt Disney Company, where he served as a board member after its 2006 acquisition of Pixar, the animation studio that Jobs had owned since 1986.

At $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year it’s bit more expensive than Apple TV’s $4.99 monthly fee but, after watching videos from both services, Disney+ — at least for now — is a better value.

People who buy or recently bought Apple products can get a free year of Apple TV+ and Verizon Unlimited and Fios customers can get Disney+ for free.

I admit, I’m a sucker for Disney movies, having grown up with them, like so many other fellow baby boomers along with their children and grandchildren.  When I was a child in the ’50s and ’60s, I watched Disney’s early movies like Cinderella, Fantasia, Pinocchio and Bambi in theaters or on TV.  And when my children were growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, they watched those same animated films on our VCR. Now families – including some empty-nesters like my wife and me, can enjoy those classics along with more recent films from Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and other franchises, at home and on the go.

Disney+ launched Monday night, which is when I downloaded the app on my Roku Ultra player that’s connected to my TV.  Because I had a flight the next day, I only watched snippets of a couple of movies but – just before boarding my flight – I downloaded the app on my Android phone along with a few movies and shows.  I’m glad Disney lets you download shows on iOS and Android – because I was able to watch the live action remake of Lady and the Trump even though I had no connectivity aboard my flight. It looked stunning on the Pixel 4 and probably just as good on a newer iPhone or any other high-resolution screen. It also looked great on my Windows PC where I streamed it (no downloading on PCs or Macs) before I left for the airport. Much of the content is in 4K resolution.

The value of any streaming service is in the content.  And, while Disney doesn’t have as much content as Netflix or Amazon, it does have Disney classics, Pixar animated films and both Marvel and Star Wars movies There are also episodes from all 30 seasons of The Simpsons and features from National Geographic as well as original new content from Disney including The World According to Jeff Goldblum, High School Musical and more.

The selection from Apple TV+ service isn’t nearly as impressive.  There is The Morning Show, which I liked, despite some pretty tepid reviews from the critics. But they launched with only three episodes. Even though I watched them in one night, it hardly qualifies as binge watching. I’ve become spoiled by the way Netflix and Amazon release an entire season at a time. The idea of having to wait for new episodes makes me feel like I’m watching old-fashioned TV when you had to wait a week for the next episode.

Apple TV+ has a handful of other programs, but not enough to keep you entertained for very long. When I signed up at $4.99 a month, I thought I was getting a bargain but now that I’ve finished the available episodes of The Morning Show, I plan to cancel and maybe come back when there is more to watch.

I signed up for Disney+’s free 7-day trial offer with the intention of canceling after sampling it for a few days but I’m not going to cancel when the week is up. There are plenty of shows and movies I still want to watch. I don’t know if I’ll keep it forever – I’m on the monthly plan, but I would almost surely stick with it if I had young children.

Disney is also offering a $12.99 bundle with the ad-supported version of Hulu along with ESPN, which makes sense if you’re a sports fan and enjoy Handmaid’s Tale or any of the other Hulu TV or film options.

While streaming services are a big improvement over old-fashioned premium cable TV, you don’t necessarily save money if you subscribe to multiple services. By the time you add up subscriptions to say, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus and HBO GO and perhaps a couple of other services, you’re spending more than you would on a basic cable package and you’re still not getting basic cable offerings such as local TV and cable news channels. But you are getting countless hours of entertainment.

As others have said, we’ve entered the “golden age of television” where the problem is no longer “nothing to watch,” but “what to watch” from an almost overwhelming smorgasbord of choices.

Larry Magid is a tech journalist and internet safety activist.

Published at Thu, 14 Nov 2019 12:00:44 +0000