Apple TV Plus is Apple’s long-rumored, Netflix-like video streaming service. which was unveiled back in March with a parade of top-level Hollywood talent producing content for the new service.
During the unveiling celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and J.J. Abrams were on hand alongside Apple CEO Tim Cook at Apple’s Cupertino, California, headquarters to announce new projects for the platform.
That’s not all, Apple had also announced a new service named Apple TV Channels, which offers a la carte access to a handful of different TV channels. Both Channels and Plus are part of a major update coming to the Apple TV app.
Here’s everything we know about it so far.
Apple TV Plus Cost and Availability
When Apple executives introduced Apple TV Plus, they failed to disclose a number of key details, with the price being one such example.
According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple’s forthcoming streaming video service is scheduled to launch in November and come priced at $9.99 a month.
The service will be an ad-free subscription service featuring on-demand online and offline content and it will be available in more than 100 countries.
As Bloomberg reported, Apple is looking to reach $50 billion in annual services revenue by 2020, and the launch of TV Plus is integral to that milestone.
Apple TV Plus Shows and Movies
Apple’s shows run a range of drama, comedy, documentary; even undefined deals with a single big star attached. But most of these series won’t be ready to debut when the service launches.
As of March, five shows had reportedly finished shooting:
- Are You Sleeping; An Octavia Spencer mystery drama.
- For All Mankind; A space drama from Outlander and Battlestar Galactica producer Ronald D. Moore.
- A thriller, Servant, from Sixth Sense director M. Night Shyamalan.
- A comedy, Mythic Quest, from Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day, who created and star in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
- A comedy about reclusive poet Emily Dickinson, played by Hailee Steinfeld from True Grit and The Edge of Seventeen.
When Apple confirmed the service was coming in March, many shows were reportedly still shooting, including:
- The Morning Show; a drama about a morning broadcast program starring Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carell.
- Amazing Stories; an anthology series from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and NBC Universal.
- See; a sci-fi drama starring Jason Momoa, who’s part of the DC Justice League movie crew playing Aquaman.
- Little America; the brainchild of husband-and-wife screenwriting team Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, whose The Big Sick was the toast of Sundance more than two years ago.
- Central Park; a cartoon musical from the creator of Bob’s Burgers and packed with the voices of stars such as Frozen’s Josh Gad and Kristen Bell and Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr. and Daveed Diggs.
- A docuseries Home, which will go inside extraordinary houses and explore the minds of the people who built them.
Come November, the service will arrive with only five original shows:
- The Morning Show featuring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. The company was trying to accelerate buzz around The Morning Show, releasing a short teaser and then a full trailer just one week apart in the middle of August (see below).
- See featuring Aquaman’s Jason Momoa;
- A production called Truth Be Told with actress Octavia Spencer;
- Steven Spielberg’s revival of Amazing Stories;
- A documentary series called Home.
Although the company does own the rights to the entire Peanuts library and is planning an educational Snoopy spinoff for its platform, it is not yet clear whether Apple will also have licensed content.
Apple has also acquired a few films at festivals to distribute on the new service. Such are the likes of Hala, produced by Jada Pinkett Smith, at Sundance and a documentary about elephants called The Elephant Queen at the Toronto Film Festival. The company also bought the rights to Wolfwalkers, an animated movie from Cartoon Saloon and Melusine Productions.
Apple TV Plus’ Competition
In addition to all of the projects listed above, Apple TV+ is going after Netflix in a big way. The tech giant is planning to make six small-budget, award-worthy films every year, with an eye on creating buzz for the service and grabbing some Academy Award nominations along the way.
In addition to getting Apple TV Plus some attention during awards season, producing a slate of new films will be a good way to generate material for the streaming service.
Apart from Netflix, Apple’s content will go head to head with the likes of Amazon, HBO, Disney, Hulu, Showmax and others. Admittedly, Apple’s complete inexperience in the area of video streaming services is definitely why the company’s streaming efforts will be so interesting to watch.
Regardless of the outcome, one sure thing is that per usual, Apple is willing to put its money where its mouth is. To this point, we recently learned that Apple is planning to spend as much as $6 billion on content creation, easily putting it side by side with heavyweights like Netflix.
Though, Apple’s reported $6 billion in original content spending, a massive increase from its initial $1 billion pledge two years ago, pales in comparison to the more than $14 billion Netflix is expected to spend this year and the nearly $24 billion Disney is expected to shell out for streaming and theatrical releases. It’s also about 25 percent of Disney’s entire 2019 content budget.
According to the New York Post, the original films on Apple TV+ will cost between $5 and $30 million each and will be helmed by “elevated” Hollywood talent. The transit towards original content was inspired by Netflix’s Roma, a 2019 Best Picture contender that won Best Foreign Film.
The Post also notes that Apple doesn’t have the kind of content backlog that Disney is leveraging to launch Disney Plus with a bang, or the same Hollywood connections as Netflix or Hulu.
Something Netflix likes to point out is that video services don’t just compete among themselves, they’re going up against anything that’s vying for your attention. Traditional television, YouTube, the parade of live-TV streaming services; even gaming phenoms like Fortnite, all these packs Apple’s new competitive field.
What’s interesting is that Apple’s dive into original programming comes as other giants are ramping up their own original video ambitions.
Apple’s five-show lineup for $9.99 a month will be a hard sell against something like Disney+, which is launching its own service on November 12 for $6.99 per month and will also be available with Hulu and a stripped-down version of ESPN thrown in for $12.99 per month.
The digital service will be a home base for streaming all of Disney’s blockbuster movies, multiple Star Wars, and Marvel original series and other programming. Moreover, NBCUniversal and HBO-owner WarnerMedia are both building their own streaming services.
Although Apple isn’t Netflix or WarnerMedia or NBCUniversal, the latter of which is reportedly spending approximately $13 billion on content this year as it figures out its own streaming strategy.
An important distinction between all is that Netflix, WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal, and Disney are originally entertainment companies. All their revenues come from people paying to watch something.
In that regard, Apple has more in common with Amazon, which spent more than $500 million on the rights to a Lord of the Rings series. Just like Amazon, Apple has a ridiculous amount of money in the bank: $210.6 billion cash-on-hand and can take a risk by investing $6 billion into a select number of shows on a streaming service.
Also putting into consideration that iPhone sales are dropping, Apple is trying to do more with services and the company wants to look outside of traditional hardware sales to continue increasing its revenue. Its push into services like gaming, music, and now streaming is a big focus for the company, with expected revenue of more than $100 billion by 2023, according to one Morgan Stanley analyst.
It will take some time to see whether Apple can succeed as a streaming service, joining giants like Netflix and Hulu in a competitive market. YouTube’s subscription-based programming range, YouTube Premium, wasn’t considered a success and is now moving to make its original content free to stream while also making 1080p offline downloads available.