“CityNews” streaming voyeur NICK OVERALL this week discovers “quality over quantity” and the scary alternatives to scrolling…
IN this ultra-competitive streaming market, you gotta be big and bold to snap up the attention of viewers. Take Apple TV+, which came out in November and has taken the tack of what I believe to be “quality over quantity”.
At this stage, Apple’s catalogue of original series is nowhere near as large as its competitors. What it does have on offer though, has been crammed with as much star power as possible – in front of and behind the camera and which would certainly have cost a hot dollar.
Jennifer Aniston, of “Friends” fame; Reese Witherspoon, who’s been front and centre of the Emmy-winning “Big Little Lies” and Steve Carrell just now making headlines in “Space Force”, make up a dynamite cast in the streaming service’s most popular series, “The Morning Show”. This taut and politically relevant drama is centred around break-of-day media and its power to inform, or more controversially, create and disseminate the infamously phrased “fake news”.
Drawing from real scandals such as what we’ve seen with the #metoo movement, it certainly has gained attention quickly.
This is only scratching the surface of the talent on offer. Whether it’s Aaron Paul, of “Breaking Bad”, star of “Hidden Figures” Octavia Spencer or “Aquaman” himself, Jason Momoa, Apple TV+ hasn’t pulled any punches in crafting an all-star line-up to get you viewing.
Its newest compelling breakout miniseries “Defending Jacob”, which just streamed its finale last week, has also become a hit.
Based on a “New York Times” bestseller from 2012, it’s another slickly produced drama featuring a star-studded cast. Where in recent years we’ve mostly seen him don superhero tights, Chris Evans brings a moody and serious performance to this series as an assistant district attorney, caught up in a case where his own son has been accused of murder.
He’s accompanied by Michelle Dockery as his wife, who you might have seen in “Downton Abbey”. Central to it all though, as Jacob, is rising star Jaeden Martel, who got his break in the hugely profitable, two-part film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel “It”.
COMPARE these blockbuster tactics of Apple TV+ to its penultimate rival: Netflix. That streaming giant does bring out the big guns for its most profitable series – think Winona Ryder of “Stranger Things”, but we also see it greenlighting as many “small” productions as they do major ones. The idea is that if you’re willing to endlessly scroll far enough, you’ll eventually get to something you’ll like.
SCROLLING though? Ha. Seems a bit five minutes ago.
Foxtel Binge’s big bold tactic is to “kill scrolling”. It wants you no longer stuck going through endless titles, overwhelming you with what to watch. Instead. it wants to make sure your viewing habits are so tailored that this all becomes a thing of the past. You finish one show and your next is right there primed up, ready to go, based on your preferences. “Binge on” viewers, “binge on”.
So, how does this work exactly? Well, we’re all at least familiar with the recommendations our streaming services give us thanks to their all-seeing, all-knowing algorithms – watching us watching them watching us and bingo, here’s something we prepared for you earlier – but the system is far from perfect.
Think I spat a bit of my drink out at “Hi Nick, because you watched ‘Goodfellas’, here’s ‘Shrek 2’.” Thanks, Netflix, excellent segue.
Hey, we can’t resort to the old it’s “only human” now can we?
As it turns out, that’s exactly what Foxtel is turning to in order to “perfect” your recommendations. Not a robot choosing for you, but instead, human-curated viewing lists for users, apparently to give that extra bit of precision in how you watch.
Content selected by an actual human? That’s beginning to feel all “Stranger Things” or “Black Mirror” a little bit itself isn’t it?