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Apple, Disney Enter Streaming Market


The new streaming service Apple TV Plus is debuting today with nine original series, including one about a news program called "The Morning Show." We swear it is not about us. I assure you. So this joins almost a half-dozen new high-profile streaming services set to debut over the next six months. They include Disney Plus, also HBO Max. Let's sort through this with NPR TV critic Eric Deggans, who's here with us.

Hi, Eric.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: I've often said you could get a great sitcom out of...

GREENE: (Laughter).

DEGGANS: ...Sticking a camera in your offices, so...

GREENE: Maybe not this morning. Next week we'll start.

DEGGANS: (Laughter).

GREENE: So what is up with Apple TV Plus? I mean, is - how do we characterize it? Is this a competitor to Netflix or what?

DEGGANS: Well, you know, in a way. I mean, big media and tech companies want to keep Netflix from controlling all or most of TV, especially in this area of high-quality, so-called prestige television, you know? That's why these huge outfits like Disney and WarnerMedia have built their own streaming platforms, and Apple's joined in. So Apple TV Plus costs about five bucks a month, but they give you a year of Apple TV Plus free if you buy some Apple products new, like an iPad or an iPhone. And it offers original, commercial-free shows to draw consumers deeper into this universe of Apple media products. But there's not a lot of content there to begin with.

GREENE: Well, with the caveat that the best show about a morning show would be the one about us...

DEGGANS: (Laughter).

GREENE: How is the show that they have that's called "The Morning Show" on this new service?

DEGGANS: It's OK. It stars Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. They've also got this coming-of-age drama - very stylized - called "Dickinson" about the poet Emily Dickinson. And the best Apple TV pilot I've seen is this anthology series about the stories of immigrants called "Little America." But that's not going to air for a while. Maybe it's best to treat Apple TV Plus like a lot of new Apple-type products and wait a little bit for the 2.0 version.

GREENE: Just give it some time.


GREENE: OK. So in less than two weeks, November 12, we get this other streaming service, Disney Plus. And it sounds like this is going to be a whole lot bigger.

DEGGANS: Yeah. There are some streaming services out there that are going to try to serve all or most of your TV needs, and it feels like Disney Plus is that kind of service. It pulls together all this material from Disney Studios, Marvel Studios, Star Wars, Lucasfilm, Pixar animation. It's going to cost about $7 a month or about $70 a year. I mean, I think sometimes, it's tough for critics like me to tell people exactly what streaming services they should buy. In cases like this, I think you should do a little homework, figure out what these streaming services offer and then decide what works for you.

GREENE: Well, can you give us any advice about what to do here?

DEGGANS: (Laughter).

GREENE: I mean, we've all been streaming. But, I mean, with all these other services - HBO Max another one - I mean, that's just a whole lot of TV to navigate.

DEGGANS: Yeah. We heard about HBO Max this year from - or this week from WarnerMedia. They're promising 10,000 hours of content for about $15 a month. Well, we've got a complete guide on the NPR website where I basically suggest breaking it down into easy steps, like keep a TV-watching diary to see what you actually watch. Be aware of what's out there. There are streaming platforms that don't have charges like Pluto TV or IMDb TV. Don't be afraid to tweak your lineup of subscriptions. Subscribe when a show you like has a new season, and then drop it when that season is over and go somewhere else. And the combined cost could easily be less than a cable subscription.

I mean, rather than feel overwhelmed, just see this as a fun opportunity. Viewers have never had more opportunity to choose what they see on TV, so treat it like you're getting to cut loose in an awesome library or amazing grocery store. And just enjoy experimenting a little with your media diet.

GREENE: Love it - thanks, Eric.

DEGGANS: Thank you.

GREENE: NPR TV critic Eric Deggans.

(SOUNDBITE OF SHIGETO'S "SO SO LOVELY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.