"If the shows on Apple’s new TV service turn out to be as smugly evangelistic, self-indulgent and editorially undisciplined as the launch event for the product....then it will be very bad news for Apple subscribers and very good news for Netflix, the current market leader," says Mark Lawson of the "boring, sprawling 100-minute broadcast (that) ended with Apple CEO Tim Cook tearing up as he delivered a namaste to Oprah Winfrey." Lawson adds: "Apple has often seemed at risk of mutating from technology company to quasi-religious cult, and its full-scale entry to the TV content market went very close to full Media Moonie...Not since the severe Scottish presbyterian John Reith tried to shape the BBC as a broadcaster that would be a moral force in Britain has a TV provider sounded so like a church ...The company created by the late Steve Jobs may dream of changing the world with TV, but may have left it too late to change the TV world."
Apple's lack of details on pricing and footage makes sense since it's not wooing advertisers: "Apple wasn’t trying to win Twitter on Monday, or even get anyone to subscribe to Apple TV+ quite yet," says Josef Adalian. "Revealing substantial footage from its new shows today, nearly six months before audiences will be available to watch, violates Marketing 101. Netflix didn’t share the first trailer for its first big original show (House of Cards) until mid-November 2012, about 10 weeks before the show started streaming. While linear TV networks reveal trailers for their shows about four months before they premiere, that’s mostly for the benefit of potential advertisers. Apple doesn’t need to woo Madison Avenue, and given how many top creatives it has onboard already, it didn’t need to convince anyone in Hollywood its TV effort is for real."
Apple wants you to believe it's The Good Place: "Right from the kickass 1960s movie-style opening credits video (which boasted, among other things, that Apple is powered by '100% renewable energy'), through the unveiling of Apple News+ (which reminded us that now more than ever, 'quality journalism matters'), via the titanium Apple Pay credit card, to the star-studded Apple TV+ launch (with its soft focus on optimistic stories and diversity), Apple CEO Tim Cook was sending one strong message: You're in The Good Place," says Chris Taylor. "... Just focus on the gauzy feeling of being wrapped in a safe, beautiful ecosystem, a perfect world of uplifting infotainment."
The name "Apple TV+" is another problem: "First of all, the name is kind of…bad," says Meghan O'Keefe. "The plus sign has been used and discarded by Hulu in the past, and is what Disney is using in their streaming service name. It’s old, and it’s also kind of tacky that Apple is leaning hard into it with both their TV streaming service and their new Apple News magazine subscription service."
Apple TV+ event was all about touting its A-list names: "Apple chose to sell a big picture that was composed mostly of lists of names, a comically pompous black-and-white intro driven by A-list talent who would have been able to get TV deals at any of 100 currently existing places," says Daniel Fienberg. "What brought them to Apple? Well, money, I'd assume. And space. But what do all of their assembled names tell me about what the Apple television brand is going to be? Dunno. From the name — yes, putting 'Apple' in front of everything and '+' afterward is mighty forward-looking — to the so-established-they're-probably-behind-the-curve represented talent, this was Apple in its 'We're making a small step forward in a familiar marketplace that you'll lap up because we're Apple' mode and not 'We're Apple, so we're taking a bold leap forward into the unknown' mode. And that's fine! It's what Apple does."
Apple's focus on star power misses what's great about TV: "For now, the framing is all we have, and it suggests television-as-premium product in a way that gets away from the serendipity and oddity of the medium as its best," says Daniel D'Addario. "Framing the service as one in which stars are the enticement and what they get up to is a secondary concern suggests that Apple, a newcomer to the TV space, has yet to figure out what fans love about television. Its booking of Oprah Winfrey as the presentation-closing coup made this plainest of all: Winfrey is a generational talent, but she’s also omnipresent, including on her podcast and on OWN, her dedicated cable network. And the advocacy she used to do on her talk show doesn’t feel quite so rare in a more crowded landscape."
None of the shows feel like must-see TV -- so far: "When the folks at Netflix first got into the game of making their own original episodic content, they made House of Cards," says Richard Trenholm. "At the time, the concept of Kevin Spacey playing an evil politician was dynamite. If new streaming service Apple TV Plus is to be a success, Apple needs original content like that. Proper must-see telly. Something everyone talks about. Something everyone pays for."
Apple reveals official titles for some shows: Octavia Spencer and Lizzy Caplan's Truth Be Told (formerly Are You Sleeping), 11-year-old reporter Hilde Lysiak drama Home Before Dark, Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day’s Mythic Quest, M. Night Shyamalan's Servant and Ronald D. Moore's For All Mankind join The Morning Show in receiving proper Apple titles.