Apple TV Plus review

Apple TV Plus wants to be your new HBO, but it doesn’t have the goods... yet.

Apple TV Plus review
(Image: © Apple)

Top Ten Reviews Verdict

Until it gets more programming, Apple TV Plus isn’t worth having for more than a month or two.


  • +

    High-quality programming

  • +

    A little bit of something for every kind of viewer


  • -

    Not updated with new content on a regular schedule

  • -

    A very little bit of something for every kind of viewer

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It was inevitable that Apple, the company that reinvented the way we access and purchase music, would have its own combatant in the TV streaming services wars. Apple TV Plus' lineup is pretty clearly aimed at Apple’s established customer base; everything on it looks great and feels very expensive. (And probably is.)

First, let’s clarify the difference between Apple TV, Apple TV Plus, and TV on iTunes. Apple TV is a device, a box you plug into your set that hosts apps, including streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, and now Apple TV Plus. TV on iTunes, on the other hand, is where you rent or buy TV programming such as entire seasons, or just that episode you missed last week. It is totally separate from Apple TV Plus. Got it? OK, let’s get into whether Apple TV Plus is worth your while. 

Apple TV Plus review: TV shows 

Everything on Apple TV Plus is exceptionally well-made. Apple took several pages out of HBO’s production manual and backed up the money truck to ensure that casts were full of well-known faces like Octavia Spencer, Jason Momoa, Reese Witherspoon, and Jennifer Aniston. High-profile shows like Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories are slowly being added to a lineup that’s already got an impressive pedigree. Everything looks great. Everything sounds great. It’s all very, very high quality. And none of it is all that entertaining.

Though you will probably find one or two shows that you enjoy, the roster of entertainment is so odd that that’s likely all it will be - one or two. There’s a little bit of something for every taste, from a documentary about elephants to a reimagining of the space race, but that’s all: just a little bit. The library of shows currently available on Apple TV Plus is very small, and even if you enjoyed everything in it, you’d be done watching before long. 

See with Jason Mamoa is exclusive to Apple TV Plus

(Image credit: Apple)

One interesting facet of Apple TV Plus is its move into childrens’ programming. Helpsters, Snoopy in Space, and Ghostwriter are all great, but not great enough to be worth passing over other services that simply have more content on them. 

Apple TV Plus review: Pricing 

If you happen to be in the market for a new piece of Apple kit - specifically a new computer, iPad, or iPhone - you’ll get a one-year subscription to Apple TV+ as a bonus. Otherwise, Apple TV Plus is $4.99 a month, with a 7-day free trial. Again, just to be clear: Apple TV (the box) is a one-time fee. Apple TV Plus (the service) has the subscription fee.  

Apple TV Plus review: Quality of Stream 

Apple may not be great at naming things, but it sure knows how to make them work well. Apple TV Plus unsurprisingly works like a charm on all the Apple devices we tested it on, including an iPhone 8, iMac, and the Apple TV. It won’t only work on Apple devices, of course, and is available on almost anything with a screen.

Should you subscribe to Apple TV Plus?  

For a month or two, perhaps, but there’s just no reason to keep it hanging around once you’ve watched your fill. The library isn’t being supplemented frequently enough to keep your subscription going after you’ve binged Mythic Quest or the upcoming Beastie Boys documentary. When there are so many other streaming services available for similar costs, it doesn’t make much sense to hang onto Apple TV Plus until it has a lot more to watch.  

Susan Arendt

Susan Arendt is a writer, editor, and consultant with more than two decades of experience from companies including AOL, Conde Nast, and The New York Times. You can find her most recent written work on Wired, or look for her on Twitter.  Be prepared to see too many pictures of her dogs.