Apple TV+: Everything we know about the new subscription streaming service
Updated 26-03-19 | 08:32 AM | Staff Reporter
Reading time: 6 mins
Apple today unveiled its new subscription streaming service, Apple TV+, giving us a first official look at its new Netflix rival.
While Apple promised that it would be “not just another streaming service”, there’s no denying that Apple TV+ will face an uphill battle to make its mark, with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video already far ahead in the race for eyeballs and subscribers. Apple has wasted no time in attracting big names, though, and that roster of talent is what Apple focused on at its event, banking on star wattage to help its service – “the destination for the highest quality originals” – to shine bright enough to compete.
Apple’s line-up of original shows, movies and documentaries will boast programming from names such as Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Octavia Spencer, J.J. Abrams, Jason Momoa, M. Night Shyamalan, Jon M. Chu and more. Many of those were on-stage at the Apple Event in Cupertino, announcing officially their projects that have been in the works for sometime.
“We’re honoured that the absolute best lineup of storytellers in the world — both in front of and behind the camera — are coming to Apple TV+,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “We’re thrilled to give viewers a sneak peek of Apple TV+ and cannot wait for them to tune in. Apple TV+ will be home to some of the highest quality original storytelling that TV and movie lovers have seen yet.”
The library of originals, which Apple has committed a reported $1 billion to, spans a wide range of genres and formats.
Amazing Stories, Spielberg’s new anthology of fantastical tales, will include an episode about a WWII pilot whose plane magically travels through time into the present day. Who will he meet? Can he go back? Does he want to? What will happen if he does?
Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston also officially gave their Apple series about a morning TV show a name: The Morning Show. “We pull back the curtain on the power dynamics between men and women” in TV, Aniston teased, before they were joined on-stage by co-star Steve Carell, who promised that his character was “extremely relatable and handsome”.
Jason Momoa and Viola Davis talked about Steven Knight’s new sci-fi drama, called See, which explores a future world where the human race has lost the sense of sight – a brief glimpse of that in a trailer promised a big-budget production.
Kumail Nanjiani also unveiled Little America, a new anthology series about immigration in everyday America – including a story based on a true tale of a “young Indian boy living in Utah whose parents get to live their dream of running their own motel until they’re deported”. And so the young boy secretly runs the motel on his own, while plotting to get his parents back into the US, even competing in a national spelling bee so he could meet Laura Bush to ask for help.
Big Bird also appeared to announced an “incredible new pre-school show” called Helpsters, which will see fellow fuzzster Codi teach kids to solve problems using the big ideas behind coding. “Coding fosters collaboration, thinking skills and is a language every child can learn,” declared Codi.
J.J. Abrams and Sara Bareilles, meanwhile, debuted the theme tune for Little Voice, a funny, romantic show about a musician in New York. It’s about “the reality about what is hard and wonderful about being a young woman finding her voice as an artist and a person through music”.
Apple saved its biggest name for last: Oprah Winfrey, who said she has teamed up with with Apple TV Plus because “they’re the company that has re-imagined how we communicate”.
They’re “in a billion pockets”, she told the crowd. “That represents an opportunity to make a major impact.”
She spoke of how the world is at a key moment to decide how to use technology and humanity, and that the “Apple platform allows me to do what I do in a whole new way”. She announced two documentaries: Toxic Labour, about the toll of sexual harassment in the workplace, and an untitled series about mental health and how the “scourge of dperession, anxiety, addiction, trauma and loss is devastating lives daily across the globe”.
Everything will be downloadable for offline viewing, ad-free and available on-demand – just like any other streaming service.
The launch date
Apple announced that Apple TV+ will launch this autumn. Where something like DC Universe has only stuck to US screens, though, Apple is thinking big, launching Apple TV+ in 100+ countries worldwide.
Apple did not confirm the pricing for its subscription service, but with Netflix and NOW TV both raising their prices, you can likely expect something competing on a similar price point, around the $10/£10 mark. Watch this space for more on that nearer autumn.
Apple TV+ will be part of the Apple TV app, and the tech giant is getting ready to open up its doors a little with that. The revamped Apple TV app is coming to iPhone, iPad and Apple TV customers in over 100 countries with a free software update this May, and to Mac this autumn. But it will also be available on Samsung smart TVs beginning this spring and on Amazon Fire TV, LG, Roku, Sony and VIZIO platforms in the future. Customers with eligible VIZIO, Samsung, LG and Sony smart TVs will also be able to cast videos from their iPhone or iPad to their TVs with AirPlay 2 support.
The Apple TV app
The other big news for Apple today was its latest upgrade to the Apple TV platform. Now an app on phones and tablets, as well as the Apple TV device, Apple is pushing to make it a one-stop-shop for everything, more than it has been before.
That’s primarily through the launch of Apple TV Channels, which takes a leaf from Amazon’s Prime Video Channels book to give users a centralised paltform to subscribe and watch individual services and bundles from other providers, such as HBO, SHOWTIME and Starz — all on-demand and available on and offline. Sports, news and network TV from cable and satellite providers will be available in the USA (that will, as always with Apple TV, be less of a selling point for viewers in the UK), as well as the iTunes library for purchasing and renting movies and TV shows.
Apple TV channels include popular services such as HBO, Starz, SHOWTIME, CBS All Access, Smithsonian Channel, EPIX, Tastemade, Noggin and new services such MTV Hits, with “more to be added over time around the world”.
The app’s interface will also be streamlined to include an On Next bar that features recommended content from other streaming apps, including Amazon Prime and Hulu. Perhaps most striking about these familiar features is that it will support Family Sharing, so that a household can easily share subscriptions across its different members.
That’s a wrap on Apple TV+ details for now, but you can watch a trailer for some of the series in the pipeline below – and keep an eye on news of each production here.