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Apple TV+ Is the Best Streamer Out There. So Why Is No One Watching?

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In one of his recent newsletters, Matt Belloni of Puck News reported on the February viewership ratings for Apple TV+, and they aren’t great: Nielsen’s monthly Gauge report of streaming viewership shows Apple at 0.29% of total viewership. For comparison, Netflix leads all streamers not named YouTube at 7.8%, followed by Hulu and Prime Video, both at 2.8%, Disney+ at 1.9%, Tubi at 1.7%, Peacock at 1.4, and Max at 1.3%.

To be fair, Apple TV+ does not have the back catalog of its competitors. But what Apple TV+ lacks in size it makes up for in quality. I say this as someone whose days of binging aren’t what they once were. With my work days usually averaging 12 hours per, along with the commitments of being the dad of a small kid, I am left with about 75 minutes max of time each day to watch something before I pop a melatonin and pass out. Increasingly, I have found myself gravitating towards Apple TV+’s programming.

Part of it definitely has to do with my interests: Masters of the Air, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks’ successor series to Band of Brothers, was one of most anticipated television shows ever since it was first announced back in 2019. I’m also a simp for the alternate reality genre and am currently glued to For All Mankind (I’m only on Season 3, so please no spoilers). When I’m done with that, I have the new John Wilkes Booth series Manhunt on my shortlist of shows to check out.

I’m also looking ahead to the next season of Shrinking with Jason Segal, Harrison Ford, and Jessica Williams, as well as the next installment of Hijack with Idris Elba. The new comedy Palm Royale with Kristen Wiig looks fun, and I’ve also heard good things about Constellation and Severance, but like I said, I only have about 75 minutes in a day to dispose of.

This entire thing might come across as a commercial for Apple TV+, but it’s not — though, if Tim Cook wants to wire me cash I’ll gladly accept it. The point is Apple TV+ has a lot of great content, and whereas other streamers are currently consolidating or cutting costs to please Wall Street, Apple is still pouring a lot of money into its programming — Masters of the Air alone is reported to have cost north of $250 million. Ratings aren’t everything, especially for a tech company like Apple, which can use its programming as a gateway to its more expensive hardware. But November 2024 also marks five years since Apple TV+’s launch, and if ratings don’t start to improve, one can’t help to think that the company will re-evaluate its content strategy.

So where does Apple go from here? Live sports seems to be a big part of the equation; already the streamer has deals with the MLS and MLB, and it’s also been linked to NBA and Formula One streaming rights. Meanwhile, Belloni believes it would behoove Apple to acquire a movie studio and vastly increase its catalog — as Prime Video did with MGM in 2021. Some people believe Apple’s longterm play is an acquisition of Disney, but that seems years off.

All I know is there is already plenty of great content available. And for Apple’s sake, hopefully many others will soon come to that realization too.

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