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Apple TV Plus: What is it? Should you get it? Everything you need to know
Apple helped to launch the personal computer revolution in the 1980s with its Mac PCs. It 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. It also led the tablet and smartwatch markets with the iPad and Apple Watch. More recently, CEO Tim Cook and the team at Cupertino went after one of the biggest tech success stories of all time: Netflix. They made this happen with Apple TV Plus (labelled officially as “Apple TV+”).
Wrapping your head around Apple TV Plus can be slightly confusing because Apple has another product in the market called the Apple TV (no Plus), which is a piece of set-top box hardware. 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, except for promotions for content and add-on streaming services within Apple TV Plus. The platform features a host of original shows and movies made under the Apple Originals program.
This bolsters Apple’s existing Apple TV, which is a set-top streaming box that also allows you to access other streaming services. 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, including Apple TV Plus. It also allows individual subscriptions to certain channels as well as movie rentals or purchases. The app comes pre-loaded on the Apple TV set-top box.
- Apple TV Plus: A Netflix-like subscription service with Apple Originals: series and films produced by and/or for Apple.
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.
Apple TV Plus features some great original content that could be worth the subscription fee for serious TV junkies, though. They include sci-fi epic Foundation, based on Isaac Asimov’s classic novels; 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; M. Night Shyamalan’s horror series Servant; 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 is reportedly spending billions of dollars to attract top-tier talent and has deep pockets to keep the platform running as time goes on.
Read also: The best movies on Apple TV Plus
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 the 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 original content (yet).
In our original Apple TV review, we noted that while it isn’t exactly a runaway success, Apple’s streaming service is a solid contender. And it keeps adding more impressive content all the time. In addition to a unique three-episode-initial-drop content strategy to get watchers hooked fast, it also features the best streaming bitrate in the business. Plus, at just five bucks a month, 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 growing.
In fairness to Apple, the company joined the fray late, and with its focus on original content, it can’t help but start slow. It’s going for quality over quantity. Apple invested a lot of money into Apple Originals and many of them are truly worth watching. Disney Plus has The Mandalorian, Hulu has Handmaid’s Tale, and Netflix has Stranger Things and many others.
Apple TV Plus may be behind, but it’s catching up. With shows like The Morning Show, Ted Lasso, For All Mankind, Severance, See, The Afterparty, and more, it’s a contender, certainly. And on the film side, Apple’s CODA won best picture at the 2022 Academy Awards.
Apple has licensed some third-party content. So far, that’s been limited to original seasons of Fraggle Rock and Charlie Brown holiday specials, so only titles Apple was already invested in as a producer of new seasons and specials. 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 as other options. This could easily change in the future with one or two massive hit shows or movies.
What users think
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, some current Apple TV Plus subscribers are still on their free year. This means that subscriber numbers could tank as those free trials expire.
Having said that, Apple TV Plus was the fastest-growing streamer in late 2021, according to Antenna.
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. 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.
Read also: 2020 reader poll results
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 when 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.
The good thing is that unlike its availability at launch, Apple TV Plus is now supported on Android devices (through Chrome and Firefox browsers), smart TVs, gaming consoles, and popular streaming devices like the Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Where is the service available?
The service is available in 107 countries around the world. It is not available in every country that supports the Apple TV app. That includes 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 viewers who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
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
- The Gambia
- 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 launched in November 2019 for $4.99 a month in the US, with a seven-day free trial. However, in October 2022, the company raised the price of the service by $2, to $6.99 a month, or $69.99 for a full year. 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.
If you already subscribe to a few other Apple products like Apple Music, it might be worth opting for an Apple One subscription. This includes Apple TV Plus, Apple Music, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of iCloud storage for $16.95 a month. There’s also a family plan for $22.95 for up to six family members. The most expensive plan costs $32.95, boosting iCloud storage to 2TB and including Apple News Plus and the new Apple Fitness Plus.
Around the world, other countries have similar costs, but you can find the list of international prices below:
- USA: $6.99/month, $69.99/year
- Canada: $7.99/month
- UK: £6.99/month
- Europe: €6.99/month
- India: Rs. 199/month
- Australia: A$9.99/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 the service to anyone who recently purchased an Apple device. This includes iPhones, iPads, Macs, iPods, and Apple TV set-top boxes.
However, the offer does not stand for new purchases now. Apple stopped offering a free year in July 2021. From now on, you’ll get just three months of no-cost access before you have to consider a paid subscription. 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 or three months to claim due to a recent purchase.
Once your free Apple TV Plus subscription is over, you can also opt for an Apple One subscription if you use other Apple services such as Apple Music, iCloud storage, and Apple Arcade. The bundle will save you some money compared to what you pay for all these services individually.
What devices does Apple TV support?
Apple TV Plus is available in the Apple TV app on all Apple devices. It’s not quite as accessible as other streaming platforms, but odds are you have several devices in your house that can access Apple TV.
For Apple devices, any iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch with the latest software update can access Apple TV Plus directly through the app, which should be pre-installed. Apple TV set-top boxes that are third-generation 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 Plus 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)
- Google TV (with Chromecast)
- Samsung Smart TVs (2018 or newer)
- Sony Smart TVs
- Vizio Smart TVs
- LG Smart TVs (2019 or newer)
- Mac (macOS Catalina 10.15 or higher)
- PC (browser only)
- Android (browser only)
- Android TV (version 8 or higher)
- PlayStation 4
- PlayStation 5
- Xbox One
- Xbox Series X
- Xbox Series S
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, with new content monthly, 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 and Charlie Brown holiday specials. These additions makes sense since Apple TV Plus also has the rights to produce brand new Fraggle Rock episodes and Peanuts content as part of the Apple Originals program.
We won’t list every show and movie on Apple TV Plus 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 not many have managed to completely capture the hearts and minds of the general public (Ted Lasso being the major exception), 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 (nearly) 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.
- Ted Lasso – A fish-out-of-water comedy starring Jason Sudeikis as an American football coach who moves to the UK to coach a soccer team, despite not knowing the sport.
- Foundation — Characters across vast stretches of space and time fight over the fate of a dying empire in this adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s classic works.
- Helpsters – A children’s series that teaches kids about coding. It comes from the Sesame Street producers at Sesame Workshop.
- Shining Girls — A woman’s perception of reality changes as history is rewritten by a time-travelling stranger who attacked her in this chilling horror series.
- 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 several episodes.
- 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.
- Central Park – An animated series with a voice cast that includes Josh Gad and Kristen Bell.
- Severance — Employees at a mysterious company undergo a procedure to separate their work lives from their home lives.
- Tehran – A riveting espionage thriller that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat.
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, with more upcoming exclusive titles from big names to look forward to. 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.
- CODA — This Academy Award winner for best picture tells the story of a teen girl, the only hearing member of a Deaf family, following her dreams of becoming a singer.
- Greyhound – A WWII 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.
- Causeway — An injured combat veteran tries to get used to her life back home in New Orleans and she plans for her future.
- Wolfwalkers – A stunning animated film about a girl who learns to turn into a wolf, the animal her father is tasked with hunting in Ireland.
- The Tragedy of Macbeth — Joel Coen, of the Coen brothers, offers his unique take on the classic Shakespeare play, with stunning performances by Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand.
Major League Baseball on Apple TV Plus
The service launched its first live streaming programming in 2022. It let users watch two live Major League Baseball games on Friday nights until the end of the 2022 season, with live pre-and-post game content as well. The games were available in the US, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and South Korea.
In addition to the live games, Apple TV Plus had a 24/7 “channel” that will feature MLB news, highlights, game replays, classic games, and more. It also had on-demand MLB programming on the service as well.
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 à 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
- Allblk (formerly Urban Movie Channel)
- AMC Plus
- Apple TV Plus
- Arrow Video Channel
- Bet Plus
- BFIPlayer Classics
- CBS All Access
- CollegeHumor Dropout
- Comedy Central Now
- Eros Now Select
- Hallmark Movies Now
- HBO (limited)
- History Vault
- IFC Films Unlimited
- Lifetime Movie Club
- Moonbug Kids
- MTV Hits
- Out TV
- Paramount Plus
- PBS Living
- Smithsonian Channel Plus
- Sundance Now
- The Great Courses Signature Collection
- Up Faith & Family
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 in 2020.
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:
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 is part of 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 the service can’t compare to Netflix on the sheer volume of content, it is significantly cheaper. The $6.99 subscription includes 4K and up to six simultaneous streams, while you’ll have to pay a full $19.99 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 $6.99 a month, but it includes ads. You’ll have to bump that all the way up to $12.99 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 $13.99 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, 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
The value of Apple TV Plus will come down to how much you want to watch new and original shows. It carries titles like Ted Lasso and The Morning Show, but isn’t the place if you want to rewatch The Office again.
There are a few different ways to get Apple TV Plus for free: You can get a free seven-day trial at any time, the Apple One service comes with one free month, or you can get three months free with the purchase of any Apple device.
You and up to five family members can enjoy access to Apple TV original shows and movies, which is a total of six profiles.
Apple TV Plus offers access to a strong library of original movies and shows, including Ted Lasso, The Problem With Jon Stewart, and Stillwater.
Yes, Apple TV Plus allows you to create as many as six profiles so that you and your family can watch shows together or independently.
Yes, all Apple TV Plus shows and movies are available to stream or download in 4K.
No, Apple TV Plus does not have any ads.
Yes, there are parental control options for the Apple TV app, web portal, and set-top box.
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.
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.
Yes, you can watch Apple TV Plus on the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S.
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.
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