Apple TV+ Launch Slate

Nine titles is not a lot. Eight TV shows and one movie, and one of those shows is the Oprah book interview. However, I think Apple did a decent job at spanning the gamut of content appeals. Shows for adults, shows for children, and an all-family documentary film. From what I’ve watched, “The Morning Show” has the best story, “See” has the best visuals, “For All Mankind” has the most novel plot with a lot of potential, and “Dickinson” is just plain fun.

There was a lot of speculation in the last couple of years that Apple was heading towards a family friendly tone. The launch dramas obviously dispel that myth comprehensively. Almost the opposite, there is not a TV+ show that is actually appropriate for the whole family to enjoy together. The children’s programming isn’t sophisticated enough in story to entertain adults and the adult shows contain far too much swearing/sex/violence to be kid friendly. The three Apple originals scheduled for the rest of 2019 are also decidedly adult material.

What’s missing is something like “Doctor Who”, something that you can watch on a Saturday night after dinner before its bedtime. “Amazing Stories” seems like it was the property meant to fill exactly that gap. It’s rated TV-PG and we have heard that it was destined to be one of the Apple TV+ launch shows — until production was delayed.

For nine titles, I think Apple did about as well as they could have done. The response from critics was definitely not what they were hoping for but the general audience reaction seems to be up to par. Their challenge now is to keep delivering on this formula at a pace that is fast enough to fend off competition from other original content services.

The abundance of 12-month free trials have enabled them to debut with a small library offering but they need to expand quickly if they want people to start paying for real when November 2020 rolls around. On current pace, they will have about 35 original titles in a year’s time. That puts them somewhere between passable to good in my evaluations, depending on the number of smash hits they chance upon. The proposition is much stronger in the second year when the TV+ library will be closing in on a hundred titles.