The 5 most important details we just learned about Apple's long-rumoured push into TV

Michael Short/Getty ImagesCelebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and J.J. Abrams helped Apple unveil its new streaming TV service.
  • Apple finally unveiled its long-rumoured streaming TV service on Monday.
  • The service is actually two services, named Apple TV Plus and Apple TV Channels.
  • Apple didn’t announce pricing for the services.

Apple’s long-rumoured, Netflix-like video streaming service was finally unveiled Monday: It’s called Apple TV Plus, and a cavalcade of top-level Hollywood talent is producing content for the new service.

Celebrities including 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.

But that’s not all: Apple also announced a new service named Apple TV Channels, which offers à la carte access to a handful of TV channels. Channels and Plus are part of a major update coming to the Apple TV app. If it sounds like a lot, that’s because it is.

Here’s everything we know about Apple’s new TV streaming service:


1. Apple TV Plus is similar to Netflix, Hulu, and other paid streaming services … sort of.

Getty/Michael Short/Stringer

Let’s start with the most straightforward part of Apple’s plan: TV Plus.

This is the service where Apple’s new shows will debut and live. It’s most directly comparable to Netflix or HBO Go – a monthly subscription service that comes with original content, sans advertisements.

Unlike Netflix and HBO Go, Apple TV Plus has no licensed content. It will be a place exclusively for shows and movies that Apple produces (we’ll get to those in a moment).

Apple didn’t give a price for the service just yet, but it did offer a few more details: It will be ad-free and available in more than 100 countries, and it is scheduled to arrive this fall.


2. Apple’s <em>other</em> push into TV is a new service named Apple TV Channels.

Apple

Whether you pay for Apple TV Plus or not, the Apple TV app is getting a major update to add a new section: Channels.

In Channels, you can build a sort of à la carte TV package by picking from a handful of TV channels and digital services. Maybe you only want Starz, Cinemax, and ESPN? You could conceivably pay for only those channels through Apple TV Channels.

It’s not clear how much the channels will cost or whether getting them through Apple will represent a savings over subscribing directly.

What Apple is offering is standardization. No matter which channels you pay for, Apple says you’ll get access to their libraries, “on demand, available on and offline, with incredible picture quality and sound.”

Additionally, you can plug in services like PlayStation Vue and even a traditional cable subscription from the likes of Spectrum and Optimum.


3. The Apple TV app is coming to a mess of new devices, from the Mac to competitors like Roku and Samsung.

Apple

The Apple TV app is something those with an iPhone or an iPad can already have, but Apple intends its TV service to extend far beyond its hardware.

To that end, Apple plans to put the Apple TV app on Samsung smart TVs starting this spring, and it’s scheduled to arrive on Amazon’s Fire TV, LG TVs, Roku-powered TVs, Sony TVs, and Vizio TVs “in the future.”

That’s a major move for Apple and a concession to the much larger world of TV owners who don’t have Apple’s set-top box, the Apple TV.

Of course, if you own an iPhone, an iPad, or an Apple TV, you’ll simply receive an update this May that will add Apple TV Channels. TV Plus isn’t expected to arrive until the fall, also as part of the Apple TV app.

Another first: Apple is bringing its Apple TV app to Macs in the fall. There doesn’t appear to be a way to access Apple TV Plus or Apple TV Channels from a web browser.


4. Apple is creating a bunch of shows for Apple TV Plus, and it’s working with a bunch of very famous people to make those shows.

Apple really splashed out on TV Plus talent. Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg were among those who showed up at Apple headquarters in Cupertino to announce their new TV Plus projects.

Here are a few:

  • Steven Spielberg announced a reboot of his classic TV series “Amazing Stories.”
  • Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carell announced a new drama named “The Morning Show.”
  • Alfre Woodard and Jason Momoa announced a sci-fi drama called “See.”
  • Kumail Nanjiani announced an anthology series about immigrants living in the US called “Little America.”

Winfrey appeared as Apple’s surprise last-minute announcement. She announced two new documentaries: one focused on “the toll of sexual harassment, assault, and violation in the workplace” and a multipart series “focused on mental health.”


Here’s a look at the shows that were announced for Apple TV Plus:


5. Pricing and availability for Apple TV Plus are coming later this year. Pricing for Apple TV Channels remains unknown, but it arrives as an update in May.

Apple

We don’t know when Apple TV Plus will launch, but Apple says it will reveal those details this fall.

Considering that competing services including Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go offer monthly subscriptions that cost $US8 to $US15, we’d expect a similar pricing structure from Apple Plus.

Pricing for individual channels on Apple TV Channels – which arrives in an update to the Apple TV app in May – remains unknown. It’s likely that channels like Showtime and HBO, which offer their own digital subscription services, will cost the same or close to what they cost outside Apple’s new Channels service.

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