Apple helped to launch the personal computer revolution in the 1980s with its Mac PCs. It also revolutionized the music industry in the 2000s with the iPod and iTunes. It jump-started the smartphone business with the iPhone in the late 2000s. More recently, it led the tablet and smartwatch markets with the iPad and Apple Watch. Now, CEO Tim Cook and the team at Cupertino want to go after one of the biggest tech success stories of all time, Netflix. It’s making this happen with Apple TV Plus (labeled officially as “Apple TV+”).
Wrapping your head around Apple TV Plus can be slightly confusing because Apple released another product called the Apple TV (no plus), which was a piece of set-top box hardware. There’s also an Apple TV app that’s pre-installed on all Apple devices. Apple TV Plus, on the other hand, is something entirely different with a distinct approach to building a streaming library.
So what is Apple TV Plus and what does it offer? This master guide has the answers to all your Apple TV Plus questions. Want to give Apple TV Plus a try? Get it via the button below!
What is Apple TV Plus?
Apple TV Plus is Apple’s premium subscription streaming service that attempts to take on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and others. It’s completely ad-free and features a host of original shows and movies made under the Apple Originals program, as well as a small library of licensed content.
This bolsters Apple’s existing Apple TV, which is both a set-top streaming box and a service that allows you to subscribe to other streaming services within the app. The idea is that you can bring all of your streaming services into one place, rather than having to remember multiple accounts and passwords.
Because we know it’s confusing with several services and products under the Apple TV banner, here’s a breakdown of the three:
- Apple TV (product): A set-top box that allows you to stream video from iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, Hulu, Netflix, and other streaming services. There are currently two models, one for HD and one for 4K. Both models run the Apple TV app.
- Apple TV app: A free app/service that serves as a hub for content from various streaming services, also allowing individual subscriptions to certain channels as well as movie rentals or purchases. Comes pre-installed on most Apple products (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac, and Apple TV).
- Apple TV Plus: A Netflix-like subscription service with more than 30 Apple Originals, plus a modest catalog of syndicated content.
It’s worth mentioning that when Apple TV Plus first launched, it only had Apple Originals, with no back catalog of other content. It attempted to attract subscribers with new, exclusive shows and series. This doesn’t appear to have paid off, with Apple pivoting to start licensing content early in 2020.
Is Apple TV Plus worth it?
Whether or not Apple TV Plus is worth it will depend on how much you value fresh and original content. It’s not the platform for people who want to binge watch The Office for the umpteenth time, with just a tiny catalog of non-original content.
Apple TV Plus features some great original content that could be worth the subscription fee for serious TV junkies. They include The Morning Show, a drama starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell, See, an epic sci-fi drama starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard, and many others.
Compared to other big hitters in the streaming world, Apple TV Plus won’t offer access to new blockbuster films or fan-favorite classics, but it’s the only service to focus so heavily on big-budget original content. Apple reportedly has a budget of $6 billion to attract top-tier talent to the platform, and deep pockets to keep it running as time goes on.
Apple TV Plus also has a fairly generous family sharing plan, allowing up to six family members to use the same account. Even better, they can use their own logins, so you don’t need to share your password with anybody.
Another thing to consider is that if you’re already in the Apple ecosystem, you may be able to get a year of service for free.
What the experts think
The general consensus from streaming and media experts is that although Apple TV Plus has a solid lineup of original content and fantastic streaming quality, there simply isn’t enough content (yet).
In our Apple TV review (link below), we noted that while it isn’t exactly a runaway success, Apple’s streaming service is a solid contender. In addition to a unique three-episode-a-week content strategy to get watchers hooked fast, it also features the best streaming bitrate in the business. Plus, at just five bucks a month and a generous free year offer, Apple isn’t asking much for access to its content.
That said, in our comparisons with other top streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus (more on this later), the difference in the amount of content is staggering. Although both services cost more than Apple TV Plus, their catalogs are significantly larger and constantly evolving.
Apple invested a lot of money into Apple Originals and many of them are truly worth watching, but none of them so far have managed to capture the attention of the public. Disney Plus has The Mandalorian, Hulu has Handmaid’s Tale, and Netflix has House of Cards and many others. The closest thing to a hit that Apple TV Plus has is The Morning Show, which got mixed reviews at launch.
Apple has since begun adding syndicated content to the service, but it will probably never boast the same expansive catalog of shows and movies as its competitors. No one is saying the service is bad, just that it doesn’t offer the same value proposition as other options. This could easily change in the future with one or two massive hit shows.
What users think
If you could only pick one, which streaming service would you choose?
Apple has always kept user numbers close to the chest, so it’s difficult to tell just how successful Apple TV Plus has been with everyday users. Complicating matters further, virtually all of the current Apple TV Plus subscribers are still on their free year. This means that subscriber numbers could tank when the first wave of free trials expires come November.
In May of 2020, we asked our own readers at Android Authority which streaming service they would pick if they could only pick one, and Apple TV Plus captured less than 1% of the vote (results above). Most users commented that the library was simply too small, although it might fare better as a second or third subscription for those who can’t get enough content.
There are, of course, other ways to gauge interest in the service. One is Google Trends, which tracks search volume for certain keywords. Apple TV Plus spiked when it was first announced, then again when the service launched. It’s done nothing but stagnate since then, even in the face of a global pandemic where everyone is at home streaming media.
Compared to another service that launched around the same time, Disney Plus, Apple TV plus is barely a blip on the radar. It’s failed to grab public attention, either due to a lack of compelling material on the platform or a lack of a big marketing push from Apple.
Our best indication of user numbers come from a report from Bloomberg that claims (via unnamed sources) that as of February 2020, about 10 million people have subscribed to the service. Of that number, only about half have actively used the service, according to the report. Those numbers fall far short of rival Disney Plus, which went online around the same time. Disney says that it has recorded over 54 million subscribers for its service between November 2019 and April 2020.
One of Apple’s biggest strengths is its install base of 1.5 billion users, but of those it’s estimated that less than 10% have actually signed up. Considering the free offer was for a full year of the service, this indicates that for the vast majority of users the initial roster of shows and movies simply isn’t interesting enough to even try the service.
While the most common complaint online is the lack of content, other users have bemoaned the limited device support. Apple TV Plus doesn’t officially support Android devices or most smart TVs, so the best options are a web browser or an Apple product.
Where is Apple TV Plus available?
Apple TV Plus is available in 107 countries around the world. It is not available in every country that supports the Apple TV app, and doesn’t include certain high-population countries like South Korea, Romania, Turkey, and others.
However, Apple has promised that each and every Apple Original will be subbed or dubbed (or both) in nearly 40 languages. There will also be closed captions on all titles for the hearing impaired.
Here’s a full list of all 107 countries where Apple TV Plus is supported:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- British Virgin Islands
- Cape Verde
- Cayman Islands
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
How much does Apple TV Plus cost?
Apple TV Plus costs $4.99 a month in the US, with a seven-day free trial. There is also the option of an annual subscription for $49.99. This fee unlocks all Apple Originals, but you will need to pay for other Apple TV Channel subscriptions separately.
It’s worth noting that there is only one price for the service, and Apple TV streaming includes up to six family members, 4K quality, and media downloads. There are no more expensive plans with extra features — it’s all included in the basic plan.
Other countries have similar costs, but you can find the list of international Apple TV Plus prices below:
- USA: $4.99/month, $49.99/year
- Canada: $5.99/month
- UK: £4.99/month
- Europe: €4.99/month
- India: ₹99/month
- Australia: A$7.99/month
How to get Apple TV Plus for free
In order to help boost its newcomer streaming service, Apple initially offered a free year of Apple TV Plus to anyone who recently purchased an Apple device. This includes iPhones, iPads, Macs, iPods, and Apple TV set-top boxes.
The offer still stands for new purchases, but it must be claimed within three months of setting up your device. Other new users can still get seven days of Apple TV Plus for free. Learn more about how to get Apple TV Plus for free at the link below.
Read more: How to get Apple TV Plus for free
How do I get Apple TV Plus?
Signing up for Apple TV Plus is easy, and can be done from both the web and the Apple TV app. In fact, it’s usually the first thing you see when you open the Apple TV app. Just tap Try It Free and confirm your purchase to get started. The first seven days are free, but after that you will automatically be charged $4.99 a month.
On the web, simply navigate to the Apple TV Plus website, then click Start Your Free Trial. You’ll have to log into your Apple account if you aren’t already logged in, but the entire process takes less than a minute.
No matter how you sign up, you will get a pop up letting you know if you have a free year to claim due to a recent purchase.
What devices does Apple TV support?
Apple TV Plus is only available in the Apple TV app, which thankfully is available on more than just Apple devices. It’s not quite as accessible as other streaming platforms, but odds are you have several devices in your house than can access Apple TV.
For Apple devices, any iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch with the latest software update can access Apple TV directly through the app, which should be pre-installed. Apple TV set-top boxes that are third-gen or newer are also compatible.
Read also: The best media streaming devices you can buy
Several other popular streaming devices such as those made by Roku and Amazon are also supported, as are newer smart TVs from some of the most popular brands. On many newer smart TVs the Apple TV app is already installed, but models from 2018 may need to search for the app and install it manually.
Certain Smart TVs that aren’t compatible with the Apple TV app may still be able to access the service using AirPlay 2. This allows you to share your screen from any Apple device. You can see a list of supported Smart TV model numbers here.
Android devices are notably excluded from the list, since the Apple TV app is not available on the Google Play Store. Still, the platform can be accessed on Android devices via the web portal on just about any web browser, just like on Macs and PCs.
Here’s the full list of Apple TV compatible devices:
- Apple TV (4K, HD, and 3rd generation)
- Roku (most models)
- Amazon Fire TV (most models)
- Samsung Smart TVs (2018 or newer)
- LG Smart TVs (2019 or newer)
- Mac (macOS Catalina 10.15 or higher)
- PC (browser only)
- Android (browser only)
What’s on Apple’s streaming service?
Apple TV Plus is all about original content under the Apple Originals program. These include shows, movies, and documentaries starring some of the biggest names in Hollywood. The company’s deep pockets and relationships with other industries give Apple’s streaming service an advantage over some competitors.
There are many great shows and movies on Apple TV Plus, and in many cases you can watch the first episode or two of an Apple Original series for free. This is a great way to see if you are interested in watching more before starting your seven-day free trial.
To help bolster the roster of content, Apple began syndicating older content in May of 2020. As of writing, the only licensed content is the older Fraggle Rock series from the 1980s. This addition makes sense, since Apple TV Plus also has the rights to publish brand new Fraggle Rock episodes as part of the Apple Originals program.
We won’t list every show and movie in this article, but here’s a brief list of some of our favorites so you know what to expect.
Best Apple TV Plus shows
Apple invested heavily in original shows for the platform, and although none of them have managed to completely capture the hearts and minds of the general public, there are some excellent shows on offer.
We have a full list of the best Apple TV Plus shows with trailers and full descriptions, but here’s a quick list of some of our favorites.
- The Morning Show – A drama centering on the behind-the-scenes antics at a national morning news TV show. It stars Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell.
- See – An epic sci-fi drama set on Earth centuries after a worldwide cataclysm has rendered all humans blind. It stars Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard.
- For All Mankind – A sci-fi series set on an alternate timeline where the Soviet Union landed a man on the moon before the US.
- Dickinson – A comedy centering on a fictional version of the poet Emily Dickinson, as played by Hailee Steinfeld.
- Helpsters – A children’s series that teaches kids about coding. It comes from the Sesame Street producers at Sesame Workshop.
- Ghostwriter – A new version of the children’s series, which focuses on four kids who have to battle creatures based on literature.
- Oprah’s Book Club – This show brings back the highly popular virtual book club created by Oprah Winfrey. New episodes will appear on Apple TV Plus every other month.
- Servant – A thriller series executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan, who also directed two of its episodes.
- Truth Be Told – A true crime series starring Octavia Spencer and Aaron Paul. It follows a true crime podcaster that gets a little too close to her subjects.
- Little America – An anthology series about the stories of immigrants in the United States.
- Mythic Quest – Two of the three creators of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day, team up once again for this comedy series about a video game development studio.
- Amazing Stories – A revival of the classic sci-fi anthology TV series, which is once again produced by Steven Spielberg.
- Home Before Dark – A mystery-drama inspired by the real life of Hilde Lysiak, who at 11 years old investigated a cold case murder for her own neighborhood newspaper.
- Defending Jacob – Chris Evans stars in this show as a lawyer who has a son that’s arrested for murder.
- Central Park – A new animated series with a voice cast that includes Josh Gad and Kristen Bell.
Best Apple TV Plus movies
Apple TV Plus doesn’t have as many movies as its competitors, but it does have a respectable selection of original films to stream right away. Check out our list of the best Apple TV Plus movies for trailers and more, but here’s a brief list of what you can expect on the platform:
- The Banker – A drama inspired by true events about two black businessmen in the 1950s who find creative ways to combat racism in pursuit of the American dream. It stars Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Mackie.
- Beastie Boys Story – A Spike Jonze documentary about the eponymous hip hop group’s rise to fame.
- Hala – A coming-of-age drama about a Pakistani-American teenager who struggles to balance her cultural and religious heritage with her American friends and desire to fit in.
- Greyhound – A WW2 drama starring and written by Tom Hanks about a navy captain who leads a fleet of ships across the U-Boat-infested waters of the Atlantic.
Apple TV Channels and other content
Although they’re not technically part of the Apple TV Plus program, Apple TV Channels are a great way to get more out of your experience with the Apple TV app while waiting for more original content. It turns the service into something more like traditional cable TV, but without all the bloat.
The Apple TV Channels program is essentially an a la carte selection of TV channels and streaming services that you can subscribe to within the Apple TV app. This allows you to consolidate most (if not all) of your streaming services into one place, with Apple getting a cut of every Apple TV subscription.
It’s easy and convenient to subscribe with your Apple account from within the app, but your existing subscriptions outside of the app cannot be transferred over. You will need to cancel them and resubscribe through Apple TV.
However, there are a few other potential benefits to subscribing via Apple TV Channels, such as higher bitrate streams and media downloads. It also makes it easier to manage your Apple TV subscriptions from one place. Many subscriptions can also be shared with up to six family members, just like Apple TV Plus.
Here’s a full list of confirmed Apple TV Channels:
- Acorn TV
- A&E Crime Central
- Apple TV Plus
- Arrow Video Channel
- Bet Plus
- CBS All Access
- CollegeHumor Dropout
- Comedy Central Now
- Eros Now Select
- HBO (limited)
- History Vault
- IFC Films Unlimited
- Lifetime Movie Club
- Moonbug Kids
- MTV Hits
- PBS Living
- Smithsonian Channel Plus
- Sundance Now
- Up Faith & Family
- Urban Movie Channel
Apple TV subscription fees will vary by channel, but typically hover around $5 or more. Apple TV Channel availability may vary by region, and HBO Now is no longer accepting new subscribers after the launch of HBO Max earlier this year.
In addition to Apple TV Channels, the Apple TV app also integrates a few other major streaming services. They will be listed alongside other channels in the app, but launching them will open a third-party app to stream the media itself. Before you ask, no, Netflix is not included.
Here’s a list of external streaming services supported within Apple TV:
- Amazon Prime Video
- ESPN Plus
Finally, the new Apple TV app will support a number of cable and satellite mobile apps, along with internet-based TV cable services. These include:
- Charter Spectrum
- Hulu TV
- Optimum by Altice
- Playstation Vue
Apple TV Plus vs the competition
Apple TV Plus enters into an increasingly crowded online streaming landscape. This includes the leader in the industry, Netflix, which has the advantage of having years of experience and an impressive catalog of both original and licensed content on offer.
While Apple TV Plus can’t compare to Netflix on sheer volume of content, it is significantly cheaper. The $4.99 subscription includes 4K and up to six simultaneous streams, while you’ll have to pay a full $16 a month for 4K content and four simultaneous streams on Netflix.
Read the full comparison: Netflix vs Apple TV Plus
Amazon Prime Video is also a major Apple TV Plus competitor. It has worldwide reach as well, along with lots of great original shows that have won several Emmy awards. It’s also typically bundled with Amazon Prime, which is an incredibly popular service for online shoppers. It even offers 4K streaming for supported content, making it a solid alternative to Apple TV Plus.
For American users, Hulu can also be a solid alternative to fill your streaming needs. The base plan is slightly more expensive at $5.99 a month, but it includes ads. You’ll have to bump that all the way up to $11.99 to get ad-free streams. One of the biggest advantages of Hulu is that it’s frequently bundled with other services, like the very attractive Disney Plus-Hulu-ESPN Plus bundle at $12.99 a month.
Finally, there’s Disney Plus, which launched less than two weeks after Apple TV Plus. Disney Plus is not available in nearly as many countries as Apple TV Plus, Netflix, or Amazon Prime Video, but it has a huge collection of popular content. Most of the Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars movies, as well as Disney classics, have helped the service to sign up over 50 million users in its first six months after launching.
Read the full comparison: Disney Plus vs Apple TV Plus
Q: How many people can stream on Apple TV Plus at the same time?
A: Up to six people can stream simultaneously.
Q: Are Apple TV Plus shows/movies in 4K?
A: Yes, all Apple TV Plus shows and movies are available to stream or download in 4K.
Q: Does Apple TV Plus have ads?
A: No, Apple TV Plus does not have any ads.
Q: Does Apple TV Plus have parental controls?
A: Yes, there are parental control options for the Apple TV app, web portal, and set-top box.
Q: Can you share an Apple TV Plus account with friends and family?
A: Apple TV Plus subscriptions can be shared with up to five other accounts (six total), although officially the program is limited to just family members.
Q: Can you get Apple TV Plus on a Roku device?
A: Yes. The Apple TV app is available on most Roku devices. Find the full list of supported Roku devices here.
Q: Can you watch Apple TV Plus on an Amazon Fire TV Stick?
A: Yes. The Apple TV app is available on most Amazon Fire TV devices. Find the full list of supported Fire TV devices here.
Q: Can you use a Chromecast with Apple TV Plus?
A: Officially, there is no Chromecast support with Apple TV. However, you can get around this by casting a browser tab with the web app open, with obvious hits to quality and ease of use.
Q: Can you watch Apple TV on consoles like the PS4 or Xbox One?
A: No, the Apple TV app is not currently available on any consoles.
Q: Will Apple TV Plus add more syndicated content?
A: Apple hasn’t made any announcements about adding more syndicated content, but it seems to be at least a part of its growth strategy for the platform.
Q: How many subscribers does Apple TV Plus have?
A: Apple hasn’t revealed official subscriber numbers, but a report from Bloomberg claims about 10 million subscribers as of February 2020.
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Help other readers out
Have you used Apple TV Plus yet, or are a current subscriber? If so, make your voice heard in our polls below and then go ahead and post your own mini-review in the comments!