Commentary: Apple’s new streaming service is packed with stars, but none look like must-see TV.
When the folks at Netflix first got into the game of making their own original episodic content, they made. 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.
Game of Thrones, basically.
I stream a lot of TV and movies. I watch Netflix and Amazon Video and Hulu and Now TV, and I welcome the choice of new shows on a new streaming service. But I have to admit, I don’t get much of a tingle in my antennae from any of thein Cupertino, California.
“Great stories can change the world,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the star-studded launch event. “We feel we can contribute something important to culture and our society.” Although he also complained, “With so many choices, sometimes it’s hard to know ,” literally minutes before launching an entire new TV platform.
Cook left out a few key details about Apple TV Plus. First and foremost: the price. Viewers seem to accept a charge of 10 bucks a month and no higher for streaming services, and Apple will certainly struggle to charge more without some killer shows wooing potential customers.
Various glittering names took to the stage to officially reveal the shows they’re creating for Apple. Cook and Co. are reported to be sinking as much as $2 billion into producing content, and for that kind of moneywill make the trip to Cupertino.
And yet, are any of their shows that exciting?
You’ve always got to show up for anything Spielberg produces, but I’m not convinced a reboot of ’80s show CBS All Access entering in April (disclosure: CBS is CNET’s parent company), but it does mean the field is a little crowded. Especially when the brutal .is really billion-dollar TV. The legendary director chose to highlight the concept from one episode of the fantasy anthology, in which a WW2 pilot finds himself in the present day. Is that really the most intriguing way to tease the series? Anthology series are all the rage, with
Of the shows announced on stage, the one I’m most interested in is Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, the couple behind The Big Sick, are creating an anthology telling the story of people coming to America. Nanjiani used his brief speech to spin the tale of an immigrant family that was deported, leaving their 13-year-old to secretly run their hotel while also heading to a national spelling bee specifically to meet Laura Bush. That sounds like great storytelling..
Also introduced on stage was Jason Momoa in furs, but that doesn’t make it Game of Thrones. A post-apocalyptic drama set in a world after the human race lost its sight, it sounds a bit close to to really pique the interest., which might feature
Witherspoon has a great track record, and if it’s anywhere near as good as Big Little Lies, then The Morning Show could be a huge win for Apple. Tackling timely themes of tension between the sexes at work, it’s very relevant. And if nothing else, it sees Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell back on TV.also feels kinda familiar. I mean, I’m definitely going to watch it. As a producer,
Still, though, behind the scenes of TV feels like familiar ground. In recent years we had a movie on the exact same subject called Morning Glory, we’ve had The Newsroom, and set in a chat show’s writers room.
Of course, I recognize I’m not the target audience for some of this stuff.is clearly going to be massive, and the documentaries produced by the beloved broadcaster will no doubt be powerful and affecting. And there’s clearly a huge market for a musical from . Whether that’s enough to get people to part with their cash remains to be seen.
The launch only officially confirmed a few of the Apple shows, leaving many others still to be announced. Hailee Steinfeld and Jane Krakowski were in the audience, but nothing was said about their forthcoming comedy Dickinson. Judging from the brief flashes in the sizzle reel video, the sitcom about the life of Emily Dickinson might have provided a bit of spark among the more heavygoing announcements.
Apple also left out some of the galaxy of huge star names linked to the new service. There was no room on stage for Brie Larson, or , the big-name actors also producing their own shows. We didn’t hear any specifics from top-tier directors and producers Ron Howard, Damien Chazelle, , Sofia Coppola, Ronald D. Moore or M. Night Shyamalan. We don’t even know what some of their projects are called, let alone what they’ll be about.
That does give Apple scope to make more announcements and continue to build buzz around Apple TV Plus. So anticipation will continue around ambitious sci-fi drama, for example, which will be based on Isaac Asimov’s series of epic novels.
Now that feels like the sort of heavyweight event TV you could hang a streaming service on.
Can Apple compete with Netflix, Amazon and the rest, or are we all? I guess we’ll find out when Apple TV Plus launches in the fall.