At its special March 2019 event, Apple announced Apple TV Plus, a brand new streaming service that, according to its CEO Tim Cook, "is unlike anything that's come before".
The streaming service will offer exclusive shows, movies and documentaries from acclaimed filmmakers, including JJ Abrams, Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan.
It marks a long-awaited attempt for Apple to take on the might of Hollywood – Apple won't just be selling movies and TVs, it'll be producing them too. Here's what we know so far.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A rival streaming service that Apple will place its own content on, among other titles.
- When will it be released? Autumn 2019 (September through November)
- How much will it cost? That's still, irritatingly, to be confirmed.
Stars, shows and channels
Unlike the basic package of Hulu, Apple TV Plus will be ad-free from the start, and will be available in 100-plus countries through a section of the Apple TV app. It will be available starting in autumn 2019 (September through November) on smart TVs, MacOS and iOS. How much it will cost remains to be seen, but it's been suggested that, as well as the base subscription price, you'll be able to bolt on individual channels too.
The service will include shows like Amazing Stories and The Morning Show, and stars like Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell and Jason Momoa are signed up to be involved. There's even a show for the preschool crowd called Helpsters.
It's also been announced that Oprah and Prince Harry will also be teaming up for a mental health docu-series, which will come to Apple TV Plus in 2020.
In a statement posted to Instagram, Prince Harry said "our hope is that this series will be positive, enlightening and inclusive – sharing global stories of unparalleled human spirit fighting back from the darkest places, and the opportunity for us to understand ourselves and those around us better."
WWDC 2019 also saw the unveiling on new alternative history show from Battlestar Galactica's show lead, Ron Moore. Called 'For All Mankind', it'll reimagine the space race of the 1960s and 1970s, from a position that sees the Soviet Union putting man on the moon first. Find its first trailer below:
- Here's the full list of the first Apple TV Plus shows
- Here's everything you need to know about Apple Arcade
- And here's all the info on Apple News Plus
In addition to Apple TV Plus, Apple introduced Apple TV Channels, which combines cable subscription services and streaming services like Amazon Prime Video into the Apple TV app. (Unfortunately, however, Apple TV Channels doesn't incorporate Netflix.)
Apple TV Channels will be incorporated into the Apple TV app on iOS starting in May, and on MacOS later in the year, but will sit outside Apple TV Plus' purview.
So Apple TV Plus is like Netflix?
This is where things get a little confusing. While on stage, Tim Cook mage it very clear that Apple TV Plus isn't like Netflix – at least not yet. While the service will offer original content by the boatload, Apple TV Plus won't offer licensed content like Netflix or Amazon Prime does, which covers all syndicated shows, like The Big Bang Theory, Mr. Robot or Seinfeld.
For now, you'll still have to buy those shows through iTunes or via your terrestrial cable app in Apple TV Channels and turn to Apple Plus for its library of originals.
There's also the question of availability. Cook named a number of major TV manufacturers who will offer the new Apple TV app in his keynote, but never came close to mentioning all the platforms where Netflix is available, like Android TV, PC desktops and laptops, and non-Apple tablets.
It's also worth mentioning that Apple Plus has been compared to Disney's upcoming streaming service, Disney+. But it looks like even though they might compete in the streaming space, Disney+ will still be available via Apple TV.
How much will Apple TV Plus cost?
That's another mystery, as Tim Cook ended the keynote without divulging how much Apple TV Plus will set you back every month. WWDC 2019 came and went without a mention of price, too.
The chances are very good, however, that the service will cost something – as talent on this scale doesn't come cheap.
The silver lining to Apple creating its own content, though, is that the service could be relatively cheap – only a few dollars / pounds per month. As we know from Netflix, licensing syndicated content isn't cheap, and those contracts eventually end and must either be renewed or dropped altogether. But producing that content gives Apple lots more leeway, in the long run at least, in terms of operating costs.
- Disney Plus: the Disney streaming service to take on Netflix (and Apple)