Apple put its upcoming streaming service, Apple TV+, under the spotlight at a star-studded event on 25 March. We still have a few months to wait until we can see the new shows that will be premiering on Apple's new subscription service in the autumn, but we already have lots of information about what's coming from Apple and its partners.
Even before the 25 March "Showtime Event" Apple had been unable to keep rumours and snippets of information about its plans from getting out, so we already knew about many of the shows that are in the works at Apple.
Then at the March event Apple invited various actors, writers and directors onto the stage to pitch their work to the audience. We saw Steven Spielberg, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard, Kumail Nanjiani, Oprah Winfrey, and even Big Bird, take to the stage and describe the new shows that they are making for Apple's customers.
In this article we'll be looking at what new shows will be premiering on the Apple's TV+ subscription service (you can jump to that section here), and also at what you can already watch on Apple's TV app and iTunes service.
What can you watch on Apple TV?
Back in January 2008, soon after Netflix started streaming, and long before Amazon Prime Video existed, Apple started selling TV shows and films on iTunes. Ever since, movies and TV shows have been available to rent or buy from the iTunes Store. Sometimes movies are available on iTunes before they launch on DVD, and long before appearing on Netflix.
More than a decade later and you can still find tons of movies, TV shows and more on iTunes. Occasionally movies and shows are available on iTunes before they appear anywhere else. Some movies even come to iTunes before they have left the cinema. And TV shows are often available to download and watch at the same time as they premiere on TV.
But there's a lot more competition now with Amazon also offering rentals and the catalogues of both Amazon and Netflix growing with popular programmes and original series. It's often the case that a movie or show that would need to be rented or bought from Apple can be streamed on Netflix or Amazon at no extra cost.
Rather than switch the iTunes store to a subscription service, Apple's embraced this situation by being up front about where you can get the best deal on the movie or show you want to watch.
Currently, you can use Apple's TV app (on an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV) to search all your subscription and on demand services for a show or movie you want to watch. The app will show you if it's available to buy or rent on iTunes, or if you can get it cheaper, or for free elsewhere. The TV app will tell you exactly where it is available and whether you can buy, rent, or subscribe to watch it. You then decide where you want to watch it, and are directed to that app.
Apple's revealed that it will be updating the TV app later this year so that users can actually watch the content inside the app without leaving it.
(Here's our wishlist of new features we hope will come in tvOS 13)
How to use Apple's TV app to find shows
In the UK the Apple TV app lets you browse content from BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, My5, Prime Video, Netflix, and more, along with the iTunes store.
- Open the TV app on your iPhone, iPad or Mac. (Soon the TV app will work on Macs, various smart TVs, Roku and Fire TV stick - more information about where you can use Apple's TV app here).
- Search for the TV show or movie you want to watch.
- You will see results that indicate where the show or movie is available and whether you can buy or subscribe to watch it. So, if it's available on one of the services you subscribe to you can watch it there.
- Choose the version that you want to watch and it will open in the relevant app. (Later this year an update to the TV app will mean it opens inside the TV app, regardless of which service you are using - unless that service happens to be Netflix, in which case you'll need to go to the Netflix app).
There will be even more choice in terms of what you can watch when Apple launches its upcoming TV+ subscription service in the autumn of 2019.
Apple has been spending billions on creating lots of new shows to be streamed via the Apple TV app. In fact, the company is said to have budgeted at least $1bn in 2018 and another $2bn in 2019 for buying and producing its own video content, and at the Showtime event on 25 March 2019 Apple gave us a preview of what we can expect.
In addition to what we saw at the event, there have been multiple reports about the different talents Apple is working with and the shows that are being produced.
Apple has bought Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories. During the Showtime event keynote, Spielberg said he would be "resurrecting this 93-year-old brand and offering to multi-generational audiences a whole new batch of Amazing Stories.”
He revealed that in one story a World War II pilot‘s plane magically travels through space and time from the past and into the present day.
Back in May 2018 it was revealed that 'Once Upon A Time' co-creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis would be the executive producers on the show.
This is a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, drama set in a future where all humans are blind - except for a pair of twins. It will star Jason Momoa (of Aquaman and Game of Thrones) alongside Alfre Woodard and comes from Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight and The Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence.
Apple has a deal with Sesame Workshop for a programme that will teach kids to code.
Called Helpsters it will feature a new muppet, called Cody. Cody is described as “a monster who loves to help”. This is one of several projects in the works in collaboration with Children’s Television Workshop.
Another one for the kids. This DHX Media project will be developing new Peanuts content.
Little Voices is described as a dramedy set in New York, with characters attempting to find their “authentic voice”. It will be produced by J.J. Abrams with original music by Sara Bareilles.
My Glory Was I Had Such Friends
J.J. Abrams will also produce this drama series, based on Amy Silverstein's book about the group of women who supported her when she was waiting for a heart transplant. Staring Jennifer Garner.
This one is being co-written by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon who wrote The Big Sick. It's about American immigrants and will be produced by Master of None co-creator/executive producer Alan Yang.
Nanjiani appeared on stage during the Apple event and revealed that each episode will be directed by an immigrant or the children of an immigrant. It is based on the true stories of immigrants, many of which were printed in Epic Magazine’s Little America series.
The Morning Show
Apple has also bought a new drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.
The company beat others in a bidding war for the two-season show, based on the book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV by Brian Stelter. The book looks at the lives of morning TV presenters.
Aniston and Witherspoon will co-star alongside Steve Carell. Aniston and Witherspoon are also co-owners and executive producers along with Michael Ellenberg's Media Res company, which will produce the show. The series was to be written and executive produced by Jay Carson (who was behind House of Cards) but Jay Carson left the project due to "creative differences" according to Variety.
Apparently Apple has also voiced concerns about the humour of the script, according to a Wall Street Journal report in September 2018.
Apple has signed up Oprah Winfrey to create original programmes for it. The multiyear deal will see Winfrey create “original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world,” according to a statement from Apple.
Apparently Apple is working on adapting a "gritty Israeli TV show” for the US market. Show-runners Howard Gordon and Warren Leight worked on 24, Homeland and Law and Order. The show centres on two elderly Vietnam vets - one of whom is played by Richard Gere.
This will be Apple’s first International series, an English language adaption of French series Calls. Each story is based around the audio recording of a 999 call. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Calls "takes storytelling innovation to the next level, allowing audiences to experience short stories through real-life audio sources and minimal visuals."
Apple has bought an adaptation of the Terry Gilliam's 1981 film Time Bandits. It's the story of six dwarves on the run from the Supreme Being. Gilliam will reportedly be a "non-writing executive partner,” according to Deadline.
The series will be co-written and directed by Taika Waititi - who bought us Thor: Ragnarok.
This comedy is coming from Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day and is set in a video game development studio. Apparently the show will will explore the intricacies of the human condition through hilarious and innovative ways, according to the Hollywood Reporter. McElhenney will star in the show as well as write for it.
Based on Gregory David Roberts' 2003 novel, which is based on Roberts' life. The main character is a convict who flees an Australian prison for Bombay where he meets gangsters and criminals.
Hailee Steinfeld (of Pitch Perfect 2, Enders Game and Edge of Seventeen), will star in Dickinson - a series about poet Emily Dickinson.
Jane Krakowski (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, 30 Rock) has also joined the cast as the mother of Emily Dickinson, according to Variety.
This will be a psychological thriller written by Tony Basgallop. The first episode will be directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
Toby Kibbell, Lauren Abrose and Rupert Grint (Harry Potter) will star in the show.
This is a coming-of-age story about a young Muslim girl. It has already been screened at the Sundance Festival.
Isaac Asimov's Foundation
Apple has landed a TV adaptation of Isaac Asimov's science fiction novel trilogy Foundation. It's based in a galaxy where humans live under the control of the Galactic Empire.
According to a Deadline report, the project from Skydance Television will be produced by David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman as well as Skydance's David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross.
Goyer's credits include The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Ghost Rider, and more. He also co-wrote the upcoming Terminator reboot.
Friedman's credits include Avatar 2, the War of the Worlds remake and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
This will be an animated musical comedy series staring Kristen Bell and Josh Gad (who last worked together on Frozen), as well as Hamilton's Leslie Odom Jr and Daveed Diggs, Tituss Burgess from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Transparent actress Kathryn Hahn and Academy Award nominee Stanley Tucci, according to Digital Spy.
The series is based on a family of Central Park caretakers who have to save the world.
It's from the creator of Bob's Burgers, Loren Bouchard and is being co-written with Josh Gad and Nora Smith. Apple is committed to 26 episodes over two seasons.
This is the story of a young hunter who comes to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last pack of evil wolves, but instead befriends a wild native girl who runs with them.
Swagger is a drama series based on the life of Kevin Durant, a Basketball player. It will be written and directed by Reggie Rock Bythewood who wrote Notorious B.I.G. biopic Notorious.
La La Land's Damien Chazelle has been signed up by Apple to write and direct a drama series for Apple.
House of Cards studio MRC is also involved with the show.
Untitled: 'You Think It, I'll Say It'
This Reese Witherspoon-produced show was supposed to star Kristen Wiig but Wiig has left the show and it is currently on hold. The comedy series is based on Curtis Sittenfeld's short story collection titled You Think It, I'll Say It
For All Mankind
This space drama comes from Star Trek veteran Ronald D. Moore and is set in a universe where the space race never ended. Joel Kinnaman (Altered Carbon) stars as a NASA astronaut.
Truth Be Told
This crime drama, based on a novel called "Are You Sleeping" by Kathleen Barber, sees a murder case reopened after a Serial-style podcast publicises it.
The series is being written by Nichelle Tramble Spellman, who also wrote The Good Wife.
Reese Witherspoon's production company, Hello Sunshine, is co-producing it for Apple and Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer will star.
CIA undercover agent inspired drama
Brie Larson (Captain Marvell) will star as CIA agent Amaryllis Fox. As yet untitled.
Chris Evans stars as a father who discovers that his 14-year-old son is suspected of killing his classmate in this short series based on a novel by William Landry.
Touring the world's most innovative homes and meeting the people who designed them.
Home Before Dark
Mystery drama based on a true story where 11-year old Hilde Lysiak discovers a cold case covered up by her town. Staring Brooklynn Prince and Jim Sturgess.
A drama about politicians, scientists, and activists trying to stop climate change in the 1970s and ’80s.
On the Rocks
Written by Sofia Coppola and staring Bill Murray, this film follows a young mother (Rashida Jones) who reconnects with her larger-than-life playboy father on an adventure through New York.
Based on Min Jin Lee’s book and will look at forbidden love in Korea, Japan and America. Staring Soo Hugh.
Back in June 2018 Apple was seeking to acquire animation rights to a movie from Academy Award-nominee Cartoon Saloon, according to Bloomberg.
The company was negotiating with Cartoon Saloon - the studio behind Secret of Kells, The Breadwinner and Song of the Sea - for rights to an animation that hadn’t yet been made.
Apple would have to release the film to cinemas prior to making it available for download in order for it to qualify for an Academy Award.
Ed Sheeran documentary Songwriter
Apple is said to be making a documentary about singer Ed Sheeran.
The documentary will be directed by Sheeran's cousin Murray Cummings.
Apparently the documentary will be released in the cinema as well as on Apple’s own platforms (via Deadline).
The Elephant Queen
In this documentary Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble embedded themselves for four years together with the family of a giant elephant matriarch named Athena. The film follows their journey.
An article in the Daily Telegraph suggested that Apple is in discussions with mobile network EE (which is part of BT) regarding a deal that could see EE distributing Apple TV set-top boxes to its customers.
Should the deal go ahead, EE customers might be able to watch the BT Sport channel via the Apple TV.