I get a real kick out of recommending things to my friends. Most recently I've raved about the epic space drama For All Mankind, the gripping time-travel thriller The Shining Girls, the fast and funny spy drama Slow Horses, the brilliant and NSFW The Boys and the utterly unique and genuinely disturbing Severance. And I hadn't really thought about it, but they all have the same thing in common – other than being really, really brilliant shows, that is. All but one of them is on Apple TV+.
When I first looked at Apple TV+ I wasn't particularly impressed, because I didn't think the library was as impressive as the best streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. But while my Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video subs individually and collectively deliver a much more massive selection of shows, it's the little Apple TV+ icon on my TV that I keep coming back to.
It looks like I'm not the only one. For the second year running, a US study has analysed the average IMDb scores for each of the main streaming services and found Apple to be the winner.
Which streaming service has the best shows?
I'm always wary of studies based on numbers as they rarely show their working, but this one (opens in new tab) seems solid enough: it tells you how many titles each service has (in its standard version; content costing extra isn't included) and how the ratings fare not just per service but for specific genres. So it makes it clear that while Apple TV+ has the highest average user rating for its shows, in terms of value for money it's not as good as Netflix in terms of the number of shows and movies rated good or excellent that you get for each dollar of your subscription fee. And while Apple scores highest in family friendly entertainment, it's not a huge surprise that Disney+ is the better streamer for kids' content thanks to its much more massive library.
The full study is worth a read. It shows that HBO Max is the highest rating platform across 11 genre categories, while Apple has the highest rated but smallest library of content in the action, adventure and war genres. Apple's average rating for drama is up from 3.9 in 2021 to 7.34 in 2022, and Amazon Prime Video has the top spot for animations. Meanwhile Disney+ has the highest-rated reality TV shows thanks in part to its inclusion of National Geographic titles.
The takeaway for me is that Apple's in this for the long haul: while Netflix and Disney added more shows in terms of sheer numbers (1,404 and 469 respectively), Apple increased its TV catalogue by 55.78% year on year. What I'd initially dismissed as a me-too effort that Apple would probably lose enthusiasm for has turned into something seriously impressive.