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Netflix vs. Apple TV+: An early comparison of the soon-to-be streaming rivals

The streaming landscape is getting crowded these days, with new services popping up left, right, and center — and it’s showing no signs of dissipating. The latest newcomer is Apple with Apple TV+, which is scheduled to launch on November 1, but will have a steep hill to climb if it wants to challenge the current streaming king, Netflix. So how do they compare? Here’s everything we know about how Apple TV+ stacks up to Netflix at this early stage, with more to come as Apple’s new on-demand platform heats up.


Apple isn’t expected to have the sheer volume of content at launch that Netflix has accumulated. It does have a strategy to draw in new customers, though: It’s going to offer unique programming that can’t be watched elsewhere. That’s why it’s poured billions of dollars into securing some of Hollywood’s top creative minds and leading stars to write, direct, and star in exclusive material for its on-demand streaming service, including Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Steven Spielberg, and Steve Carell.

That’s not to mean it’s going to be straightforward for Apple. Netflix is no stranger to big investments for content, either — and it’s been reaping the benefits. Its Netflix Original movie Roma was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won in three categories, including Best Director (Alfonso Cuaron) while many of its Netflix Original shows, including House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, have become annual Primetime Emmy Awards darlings.


Seeing as Apple TV+ won’t be home to a selection of licensed or exclusive content that can even come close to that of Netflix, it can’t charge the same. As such, Apple will cost $5 per month for a plan that accommodates up to six users. That’s $4 cheaper than Netflix’s bottom-tier subscription and $11 less than its maxed-out $16-per-month Premium membership. And in a desperate bid to get the ball rolling, it’s throwing in a year’s free membership with every sale of select Apple hardware, including the new iPhone 11.


There’s no official word yet on how — or on which devices — Apple TV+ will be made available, but seeing as it’s offering a free membership with each sale of the Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Mac, it’s safe to assume it will be available on all of them. And with more than 1.4 billion iOS devices in use right now, that’s a significant market it’s looking to capitalize on. There’s also been some chatter surrounding a debut on select smart TVs, including Samsung’s latest models, but that’s yet to be confirmed.

On the other hand, Netflix is available on all of the aforementioned Apple devices and can be tapped into through just about every smart television, set-top box, and streaming stick on the market, as well as on Android, so there’s a much larger potential customer base at Netflix’s disposal just waiting to be exploited. And with a purported 150 million subscribers at the time of writing, it’s done a fantastic job of onboarding a healthy slice of them.

To stand a better chance of competing, Apple will need to add Android, Fire TV, and Roku OS to the list.

Video and audio quality

Apple hasn’t detailed whether Apple TV+ will be available in a 4K Ultra HD resolution or if it will offer HDR video. However, Digital Trends has learned from Dolby that Apple Originals will be available in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, confirming the latter. And given the fact that the Cupertino, California-based (that’s only a stone’s throw away from Hollywood, so it’s set up camp in the perfect location) tech giant is looking to compete with Netflix, and it’s shooting all-new content, it’s likely it will all be available in 4K Ultra HD.

Similarly, the bulk of Netflix’s Originals have been shot in 4K Ultra HD and a select few are available in Dolby Atmos. Apple could just have the advantage when it comes to the ratio of the content it’s offering in 4K Ultra HD, and that’s simply because it won’t be stocking the same amount of material as Netflix.

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Josh Levenson
Having spent half a decade writing about the latest AV, mobile and social news for some of the world’s largest…
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