Update: May 31, 2020: We have updated this article stating that the original Fraggle Rock TV series has been added to the Apple TV Plus content library, and that new episodes are in the works.
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+”).
Isn’t there already an Apple TV? Yes, indeed; there are both an Apple TV app and an Apple TV hardware set-top device for TVs. However, Apple TV Plus is designed to offer consumers a way to subscribe to other online TV services inside just one app. In addition, there’s now a ton of original TV and movie programming that’s exclusive to Apple TV Plus. That means it is (semi-directly) in competition against Netflix, along with Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and others.
In this article, we will go over everything we know so far about Apple TV Plus.
What is Apple TV Plus?
While it was officially announced at Apple’s services press event on March 25, Apple has been working on Apple TV Plus behind the scenes for years. Over the past several years there have been rumors that Apple wanted to launch its own smart televisions, but these reports never came to fruition. A few years ago, Apple was close to launching an Internet-based TV service similar to Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and others. However, those plans ultimately fell apart.
In the end, Apple decided to offer a service similar to what Amazon Prime Video offers its subscribers. On the one hand, Apple TV Plus is already giving its users a way to sign up and watch premium TV streaming services inside just one app, without having to switch from app to app on your device. or without having to remember multiple accounts and passwords.
The other part of Apple TV Plus is the company’s ambitious plan to offer customers a range of original TV shows and movies. The series and films that have been released and announced so far range from serious dramas and comedies to kids shows and documentaries.
The Apple TV Plus app still provides a way to rent or buy movies and TV shows available on iTunes, including any previous purchases you may have made. The app will also show you personalized recommendations for TV shows and movies you might be interested in watching, based on your previous viewing patterns.
When was the Apple TV Plus update released?
Apple TV Plus launched in two phases. The first phase has already happed with the launch of the updated Apple TV, which allows for third-party premium services to be accessed inside the app. The second part of the service, when Apple TV Plus introduces its original and exclusive programming, launched on November 1, 2019.
What platforms are supported by the new Apple TV app?
Apple TV Plus is available on the company’s own hardware, of course, including the iPhone, iPad, Mac and its Apple TV set-top box. However, in a change from its usual closed hardware platform trend, the Apple TV app will also be available on a number of smart TVs. That includes the newest 2019 Samsung smart televisions, which was announced at CES 2019 in January.
The revamped Apple TV app is also available on LG, Sony and Vizio smart TVs in the near future. Perhaps the most exciting thing is that the Apple TV app is now available on the popular Roku and Amazon Fire TV platforms.
Apple has not announced plans to support Windows or Android-based devices with its new Apple TV app. However, the company has announced it will support viewing Apple TV Plus original programming on the tv.apple.com website, which will support Chrome and Firefox browsers as well as Apple’s Safari. That means Windows PCs and Android-based smartphones and tablets, along with Chromebooks, should be able to watch all the exclusive Apple TV Plus shows.
What TV services does the new Apple TV app support?
Apple has confirmed a selection of premium TV services that it will support inside the new Apple TV app. The company is calling this feature Apple TV Channels. Again, the app will allow users to use just their Apple ID and password to sign up for these streaming services. The account can be shared with up to six family members. Here’s a look at what’s been confirmed for the U.S. market:
- CBS All Access
- Smithsonian Channel
- MTV Hits
- Acorn TV
- PBS Living
- College Humor’s Dropout
- Acorn TV
- Curiosity Stream
- Lifetime Movie Club
- Urban Movie Channel
- Sundance Now
- Eros Now
- Comedy Central Now
- Up Faith & Family
In addition, the Apple TV app will support watching content from a number of other premium streaming services. However, those will still require a separate account. They include:
- Amazon Prime Video
- ESPN Plus
You may have noticed that one pretty major service isn’t listed: Netflix. You will still have to sign into the dedicated Netflix app to watch its content on your device.
Finally, the new Apple TV app will support a number of cable and satellite mobile apps, along with internet-based TV cable services. They include:
- Charter Spectrum
- Hulu TV
- Playstation Vue
- Optimum by Altice
Where is Apple TV Plus available?
Apple has confirmed that the new app, and the Apple TV Plus service, is available not just in the U.S but in over 120 other countries worldwide.
How many people can stream on one Apple TV Plus account?
Apple Tv Plus will support up to six family members on one account, signing in with their own Apple ID and password.
What exclusive television shows and movies does Apple TV Plus have at launch?
Yes, Apple is going Hollywood. It will spend billions of dollars to fund a ton of original and exclusive TV shows for Apple TV Plus. Apple has recruited a number of high-profile writers, directors. producers and actors to create content for its new service. Here’s was the launch lineup of Apple TV Plus shows:
- The Morning Show – This is 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 – One of the biggest Apple TV Plus shows, it is an epic sci-fi drama. It is set on Earth centuries after a worldwide cataclysm has rendered all humans blind. It stars Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard.
- For All Mankind – Here’s yet another sci-fi series. This one is set on an alternate timeline. In this twist, the Soviet Union landed a man on the moon before the US.
- Dickinson – This is a comedy centering on a fictional version of the poet Emily Dickinson, as played by Hailee Steinfeld.
- Helpsters – This children’s series has a goal to teach kids about coding and comes from the Sesame Street producers at Sesame Workshop.
- Peanuts – Apple has secured the rights to release new shows and movies based on the classic comic strip, starting with Snoopy in Space.
- Ghostwriter – A new version of the children’s series, which focuses on four kids who have to battle creatures based on literature.
- The Elephant Queen – A documentary that focuses on an African elephant and her herd.
- Oprah’s Book Club – This show brings back the highly popular virtual book club created by Oprah Winfrey. The first episode features The Water Dancer, from author Ta-Nehisi Coates. New episodes will appear on Apple TV Plus every other month.
Apple TV Plus has launched more series since the November 1 launch:
- Servant – This thriller series is executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan, who also directed two of its episodes.
- Truth Be Told – This true crime series stars Octavia Spencer and Aaron Paul. It also comment on the popularity of true crime podcasts.
- Little America – An anthology series about the stories of immigrants in the U.S.
- 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 centered on a video game development studio
- Amazing Stories – This is a revival of the sci-fi anthology TV series, which is once again being produced by Steven Spielberg.
- Home Before Dark – This is a show 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.
The service has also added its first older content to the service. It now includes all of the original episodes of the children’s series Fraggle Rock.
What other shows and movies will be on the service?
Those shows and movies are just the tip of the iceberg for Apple TV Plus. Here’s a look at just some of the other shows and movies that are either in production or confirmed to be in development for the service.
- Central Park – A new animated series with a voice cast that includes Josh Gad and Kristen Bell.
- Little Voice – A show about a young singer trying to make it big in New York City, with original songs from Sara Bareilles.
- My Glory Was I Had Such Friends – Jennifer Garner stars in this real-life story about a woman waiting for a heart transplant.
- Time Bandits – A show based on the beloved 1980s fantasy movie of the same name.
- Foundation – A series based on the classic sci-fi novels of a galactic empire by the late Isaac Asimov.
- Lisey’s Story – This will star Julianne Moore as a woman trying to move on after the death of her husband.
- Ted Lasso – This comedy series will star Jason Sudeikis as the title character. Ted Lasso is an American football coach who is recruited to lead an English football team.
- Greyhound – The WWII drama starring Tom Hanks will stream exclusively on the service, instead of its planned theatrical release.
- Fraggle Rock – The service will show all-new episodes of the classic Muppet children’s fantasy series.
Even more shows and movies
Apple TV Plus has also signed up Oprah Winfrey and her production company for a long term deal. One of the projects is a documentary called Toxic Labor, and there’s another show that will look at the issue of mental health (with Prince Harry as the co-creator). At the press event, Winfrey also said she plans to revive her highly popular book club via Apple TV Plus.
Apple has also signed up Oscar-winning writer-director Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Gravity, and Roma) with a multi-year deal. He will create and produce TV shows exclusively for Apple TV Plus. The company has also acquired the documentary movie Hala, about the life of a Muslim teenager in the US.
Apple TV Plus has a couple of untitled series in the works. One comes from director Damien Chazelle of Whiplash, La La Land, and First Man. Its content is still unknown. Brie Larson will also star in another currently untitled series based on the real-life of CIA agent Amaryllis Fox.
Two more docuseries at on the works. One is called Dear, and the brief footage shown of the show seems to hint it will be about a dance company. Another upcoming series is Masters of the Air. Produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, it will tell the story of the US bomber pilots in World War II. This will actually be the first series for Apple TV Plus produced in-house by Apple.
Will Apple TV Plus offer older movies and TV shows?
According to a recent, unconfirmed report from Bloomberg, Apple will be adding some older TV shows and movies to the service to bulk up its content library. There’s no word on when these new films and TV series will be added. The report says the company has not yet bought the rights to stream any major entertainment franchises for Apple TV Plus.
How much does Apple TV Plus cost?
Apple TV Plus costs $4.99 a month in the U.S, with a seven-day free trial. There is also the option of an annual subscription for $49.99. People who purchase new iPhones, iPads, Macs and Apple TV products can get Apple TV Plus free for a year. In Canada, it costs $5.99 CAD a month, and it costs £4.99 a month in the U.K. For the rest of Europe, Apple TV Plus costs 4.99 euros. In Australia, the price is A$7.99 a month and in India costs INR 99 per month.
What devices does Apple TV Plus work with?
Aside from the Apple TV and Apple products with the Apple TV app, can you use the service anywhere else? Thankfully, yes. Apple has added the app for Roku-based smart TVs, as well as Roku’s streaming sticks and set-top devices. It’s also available on 2019 Samsung smart TVs. It’s also available on Amazon Fire TV devices. It’s also available for smart TVs from Sony, LG, and Vizio.
What else do we know?
Apple TV Plus does not include any ads or commercials. Shows on the service will support downloads for people who want to watch them offline. Some shows have been released with all episodes at once, while other shows have launched with three episodes at first, with the rest released on a weekly basis. Many of its shows are letting anyone watch first two episodes for free. Apple TV Plus also supports 4K resolutions for video streaming.
How many people have signed up for the service?
Apple has yet to reveal official subscription numbers for Apple TV Plus. However, a report from Bloomberg 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 are far short of rival Disney Plus, which went online at around the same time. Disney says that it has recorded over 54 million subscribers for its service between November 2019 and April 2020.
Can I watch Apple TV plus for free?
Yes. The service has a seven-day free trial for all new users. Also, people who purchase a new Apple hardware device can get Apple TV Plus free for a year. In addition, for a limited time, anyone can stream a select number of movies and shows on the service for free, without a subscription. For more information on how you can get Apple TV Plus for free, check out our article.
Comparing Apple TV Plus to other services
- Apple TV Plus launched in an already crowded streaming market.
- Netflix is still the leader in this market with over 182 million subscribers worldwide
- Amazon Prime, which includes Amazon Prime Video access, has over 150 million subscribers
- The recently announced Disney Plus has over 50 million subscribers five months since it launched
Apple TV Plus is going up against some big competition in the streaming space. That includes the leader in this industry, Netflix. It has the advantage of having years and years of experience, plus a ton of both original and library content to draw upon.
Read: Netflix vs Apple TV Plus
Amazon Prime Video is also a major competitor. It has worldwide reach as well, along with lots of great original shows that have won tons of Emmy awards. Finally, there’s Disney Plus, which launched less than two weeks after Apple TV Plus. Disney Plus is not in nearly as many countries as Apple TV Plus, Netflix, or Amazon Prime Video, but its huge collection of popular library content, including most of the Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars movies, has caused the service to sign up over 50 million users less than five months after launch.
It’s unlikely that Apple will reveal specific subscriber numbers for Apple TV Plus in the next year or so. It will be interesting to see if it will ever release those kinds of stats.
Will it succeed?
There’s no doubt that Apple is aiming for the fences with Apple TV Plus. It sees revenue from its services becoming a more important part of its overall business, even as its hardware products experience lower sales. It certainly has recruited a ton of well-known Hollywood talent, both in front of and behind the camera, to create content for Apple TV Plus. The big question is whether or not consumers will pay for yet another premium streaming service. Most people can only afford to pay for one or two. Apple’s content has to be so good, it makes people want to spend money to sign up for it.
Only time will tell if this “Netflix killer” will make people not just sit up and take notice, but also use their wallets to see what all the fuss is about.