Not even Apple can clean up the streaming TV mess

“Here’s Apple Inc.’s idea: Next time you want to watch something, no matter what or where or why, just tap on the app called ‘TV.’ That’s where Apple has built a hub for all your content, no matter where it comes from or which app you use to watch it,” David Pierce writes for The Wall Street Journal. “In addition to all the shows and movies you’re currently watching, the TV app uses a mix of automatic personalization and editorial curation to deliver a steady stream of stuff you might want to watch.”

The all-new Apple TV app
The all-new Apple TV app, now available in over 100 countries, brings together the different ways to discover and watch shows, movies and more into one app.

“That’s the idea, anyway. In reality, Apple TV (for the purposes of this article, the app, not the box — these overlapping names are ridiculous) falls far short of its goal,” Pierce writes. “Too many important content sources simply don’t exist in the Apple TV universe, and the ones that do aren’t integrated closely enough. It’s a very good idea, but the execution only serves to show how confusing and broken the TV landscape really is.”

” With only a couple of taps, the TV app can connect to Hulu, Prime Video, FX Now and whatever other apps you’ve got.,” Pierce writes. “Except Apple TV doesn’t include Netflix, which immediately takes it out of one-stop-shop territory. It doesn’t index your live TV channels or the on-demand shows from your cable provider, either. Apple TV also has no way to know which shows I’m already halfway through or have finished entirely. If you watch ‘Billions’ through the Showtime app on your phone or Roku, Apple TV simply has no idea, and will keep recommending episodes you’ve already watched.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The TV app is obviously a work in progress. It’s trying to herd cats and is actually having some success at it!

The “keeping track, all-in-one-place” concept of Apple’s TV app is sound, but only when everyone’s participating. For now, with Netflix not playing along, it’s up the the user to keep track of who’s AWOL; that obviously detracts from the “all-in-one-place” experience.

Hopefully, in time, as they have with pretty much every music artist (it took years to get The Beatles, for example), Apple can cajole and corral the Netflixes of the world into fully participating in the TV app.

Once Apple TV+ launches, the TV app will become even more of a destination. Perhaps the usage increase will convince the holdouts to come aboard. — MacDailyNews, May 16, 2019

Apple’s new TV app is a work in progress – May 16, 2019


  1. I used the AppleTV app over the weekend and it tracked which shows I watched on Prime Video and cued up the next one. It was nice to start the episodes from the AppleTV app with a few checks rather than several more click if I had gone to the horrible Prime Video app.

    1. In my experience Amazon Video on Fire OS devices also queues up the next video in the series. Once it reaches the end of the series it queues up the next episode of another series you may have been watching or lacking a history, picks one to that it thinks you may be interested in.

  2. The AppleTV is by far the most watched streaming box in hour house. We have the 4k version and love how we can watch Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple Moves, YouTube, and videos all in ONE place. We also have a Roku, DVR, Playstation and TiVO – which get almost NO use.

  3. If you are not connected to the net it shows all of the video items on your iPad (in my case) in one long list all munged together — all 275 TV episodes and 511 “movies” (movies+home videos). Not useful.
    When you connect to the net it splits stuff up into groups, but shows you everything you’ve ever purchased. Not useful.
    In summary, this app is no longer useful to me.

    1. Well, give them time. Unfortunately if they take too long, the competition, which currently would be Amazon Prime Video on Fire OS devices, will continue to lead the consolidation and improvement of UI.

  4. The Apple TV app recently showed up on my 3rd generation Apple TV, and it’s basically useless to me. I already have subscriptions to HBO, Starz, and others through DirectTV. I can already watch shows in HBO’s and others’ dedicated apps, though I have to go through the PITA registration process for each of them on a regular basis. But if I go to any of the pay channels in the Apple TV app, all I get is an offer for a free trial. No way to register my existing subscriptions. Apparently, the ATV app puts everything in one place ONLY IF you subscribe within it. So for someone like me with a satellite TV service, the ATV app is just a repository for some free content, which I believe I can also get elsewhere. Not exactly the perfect solution I was expecting.

    1. Apple has the same problem as Amazon Video where both are still unable to create a master index of content across Streaming Apps. They both required 3rd party streaming company content to be part of their respective ‘subscriptions’. The first company to crack that nut, which would allow those with existing subscriptions (HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, etc.) via cable service (in most cases part of an apartment complex maintenance fee) to integrate their accounts with their respective ‘main’ App, will have the advantage going forward.

      1. Amazon is light years ahead of Apple because they own IMDB. Apple can’t index any media without help from its frenemies. Apple clearly has no intention of helping users manage their own DVD rips or home videos either.

        It also doesn’t help that Apple managers couldn’t think of anything better than iPhone app store replication in their half hearted attempt to deliver video.

        They’d have been better off buying half a dozen streaming platforms and leading producers (HBO, hulu, ESPN, etc) and then giving users actual choice: all of the channels in one deluxe bundle or an a la carte mini bundle. Offer a free Apple TV set top box for each subscriber and gain market share instead of watching others run circles around Apple.

        Looks like Apple has chosen to burn a few billion in stock buybacks instead.

  5. I don’t think much of TV Streaming is working. I am currently only subscribed to Netflix and HBO (which I get as part of my ATT unlimited cell plan.) I don’t know if this aggregator concept that Apple is trying to pull off is going to work. I tried it when I had YouTube TV, DirectTV Now and PS VUE and found that it did not suit my watching habits at all. It really is a mess.

  6. Streaming, in general, is a mess because the market has not shaken itself out yet. AT&T, Disney and Comcast are doing the best they can to corner you into platforms they control and force you into the same stupid bundles that drove so many from Cable or satellite.

    If you look at the ratings, most of the people watch a handful of channels and the rest are just hangers-on that would be unable to be financially viable on their own. Those channels are mostly owned by a handful of companies that are or are tied closely to the same handful of companies that control ISP, satellite and cable TV in the US.

    I would say it is a cartel in collusion to keep you paying through the nose regardless.

    The greediest of these is Disney. If the DoJ was doing their job, the company as we know it would not exist. It should be broken up- same for CONcast and AT&T.

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