Apple revealed more details about its upcoming Apple TV Plus service at its September Special Event. We now have a price, a launch date and know which TV shows are coming to the service at launch. Here’s everything we know so far about Apple TV Plus.
Apple has poured billions of dollars into its new streaming service Apple TV Plus, which will go up against the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Disney Plus. It arrives November 1st and will cost £4.99 in the UK ($4.99 in the US). What else can we expect from it and what will you be able to watch on the video streaming platform.
Apple TV Plus − At a glance
Apple has previous streaming experience with Apple Music, but the video streaming market is a different kettle of fish. With similar services from Netflix, Amazon, Now TV and Rakuten TV long established, and big new players like Disney Plus on the horizon, Apple’s got its work cut out.
At its September Keynote, Apple TV Plus date the service for November 1st 2019, and to boost its chances of success, Apple has enlisted a roster of Hollywood talent both in front of and behind the cameras, including Steven Spielberg, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, J.J. Abrams.
The service will be host to original content from Apple, alongside content from other services through the refreshed Apple TV app.
Apple TV Plus − Price
Apple unveiled the price for Apple TV Plus and it costs just £4.99 per month.
At £4.99, it’s less than Netflix, Amazon and Disney Plus and there’s a seven day free trial included thrown in too.
Apple is being even more aggressive with its pricing, with news emerging of a free subscription to Apple TV Plus for anyone who purchase a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch from September 10th onwards.
Buyers can start the one-year free deal in the Apple TV app, and they have three months after device activation to claim it. If the iOS device was purchased before the Apple TV Plus launch, then it’s three months from November 1st to activate it.
What about watching content on more than one device? MacRumors discovered code in macOS Catalina that implies it could be limited to one device at a time. Our feeling is Apple TV Plus lines up the same as Apple Music – which also limits users to one device – with the Family Sharing plan (up to six people) expanding the number of devices.
Apple has confirmed the service will bundle subscription-based channels from other providers through the Apple TV app. The presumption is it will use its own original content and low price to drum up interest, and make money from hosting or bundling subscriptions to services such as HBO.
Interestingly, Apple has said the service will be both ad-free and on-demand.
Apple TV Plus − Launch date
Apple promised a “fall” launch and it turned out to be true. Apple TV Plus launches in the UK on November 1st.
The service will launch in 100+ countries at launch, and unlike Disney Plus, the UK is one of those countries.
Apple TV Plus launches with a clutch of shows, a list that includes The Morning Show, Dickinson, See, For All Mankind, Snoopy in Space, Ghostwriter, The Elephant Queen and Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club. The first three episodes will be premiered at launch, followed by an episode a week. Some other shows will have full seasons available at once, but Apple hasn’t said which ones these will be.
More shows will be added on a monthly basis, with the next group including the likes of Servant (from M. Night Shyamalan), Truth Be Told, Little America, The Banker and Hala.
As Apple is launching its own content alongside subscriptions from other content providers, we don’t expect the UK version of the service to feature the same content as the US version due to licensing issues. For instance, HBO Go is not available in the UK − Sky Atlantic has the rights to HBO content. We did spot BBC/ITV’s BritBox on the list of content providers though.
Apple TV Plus − Content
Apple has lined up a lengthy list of stars for its original shows with production values looking impressive, which they should be considering how much money Apple has invested.
With around 30 projects thought to be in the works, it’s not enough to trouble Netflix, but the focus is on broader stories for younger viewers and families.
- Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories
Steven Spielberg’s anthology series is heading back to the small screen. Not much has been revealed except what appeared to be an image of a WW2 pilot. Otherwise we do know that Edward Burns, Austin Stowell, and Kerry Bishé are all starring in an episode of the show.
- Little America
Created by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, Little America is another series that will tell stories of immigrants in America. As Nanjiani explained, the show will “go beyond the headlines to look at the funny, romantic, heartfelt, inspiring and unexpected lives of immigrants in America, at a time when their stories are more relevant than ever”.
See pitches Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard as survivors in a future where most of the human race has lost the ability of sight. Conflict ensues when it emerges a set of twins with sight have been born.
- Little Voice
You can’t keep J.J. Abrams away from TV. He’s back with a new series based an idea by musician Sara Bareilles. Little Voice is a romantic comedy that explores the journey of a character finding their “authentic voice” in their early 20s. Described as a “fresh, intensely romantic tale”, Bareilles is expected to write several original songs for the show.
- For All Mankind
For All Mankind is from the mind of Ronald D. Moore, the main creative force behind the 2004 Battlestar Galactica reboot. The premise is essentially a ‘What If?’, with the Russians beating the US to the Moon, escalating the race to discover space beyond the moon. The trailer shown at WWDC 19 looked great, boasting impressive production values. Joel Kinnaman (Suicide Squad, Altered Carbon) stars in one of the main roles.
- The Morning Show
At Apple’s March event, Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon took to the stage with Steve Carell to talk about The Morning Show. This show has already been commissioned for two seasons and has been described as an exploration of “the unique challenges faced by the women and men who carry out this daily televised ritual.” The vibe from the footage seemed similar to Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. Let’s hope it’s more consistent.
- Oprah’s Book Club
Oprah Winfrey announced the revival of her Book Club series for the service. For those not familiar, Book Club highlights books chosen by Winfrey and features a discussion about them. This version will include live streams with the authors of book. Oprah also announced she’ll be teaming up with Prince Harry to produce a docu-series about mental health that’s coming in 2020.
- The Eddy
More details have emerged about the show Damien Chazelle is making for the service. The Eddy stars André Holland as the emotionally stunted Elliot Udo, a jazz pianist from New York who lives in Paris and is the owner of a failing jazz club. Udo is in an on-off relationship with the lead singer of the his club’s house band and has to contend with his teenage daughter turning up, forcing him to confront his own arrested development.
- Other series in development
We know Brie Larson is starring in a drama based on the book Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA. Foundation is based on the works of science-fiction author Isaac Asimov. My Glory Was I Had Such Friends reunites Alias star Jennifer Garner with J.J. Abrams. Hailee Steinfeld is also starring in a series about American poet Emily Dickinson, aptly titled Dickinson.
Defending Jacob sees Chris Evans play the main character with direction by Morten Tyldum. Pachinko is a historical drama about a Korean family that emigrates to Japan.
The New York Post reported in June that Apple is looking to pump money into six small-budget films per year that would have a shot at an Academy Award. The report claims that Apple is planning to spend between $5 million and $30 million on each of the projects, and that the iPhone maker was inspired by the success Netflix had with Roma.
We know there won’t be much in the way of live sports on Apple TV Plus − at least not in the near future. Apple executive Eddy Cue has said “not a lot” of thought had been put into acquiring rights for sporting events.
Related: Apple TV exclusive shows
Apple TV Plus − Platforms and devices
Apple TV Plus can be found in Apple’s refreshed TV app, with access to TV shows, films and content from other providers. Content from other providers will play in the TV app instead of directing you elsewhere, as happens with the Freeview app.
Content can be watched online or offline, so you’ll be able to download films and shows to watch if you find yourself without an internet connection. There does appear to be a download limit, implying you can only download a few episodes at a time.
From now, users can watch trailers and add Apple TV Plus series/movies to the Up Next functionality on the Apple TV app to get a notification as to when the first episodes go online.
Related: How to watch Apple TV shows
Apple Originals will be offered in 4K, but there was no further announcement at its Special Event about whether that will incur an extra cost or be apart of the £4.99 per month subscription. Apple has said that the TV app will be home to the “largest collection of 4K HDR content to browse, buy and rent”. The TV app will support Dolby Vision HDR, and Dolby Atmos audio.
The service is slated be available on all Apple devices, and the Apple TV app is currently exclusive to select 2018 and all 2019 Samsung smart TVs. The app is expected to come to Amazon Fire TV, LG, Roku, Sony and VIZIO TVs in the future.
Owners of LG and Sony smart TVs will get AirPlay 2 support, allowing them to play videos and other content from their iPhone or iPad to their smart TVs.