Apple TV streaming service: what, where, when and how much

Apple is spending billions making its own TV shows for distribution via Apple TV, iPhone and iPad, some third-party TVs and Roku and Fire TV. Find out what shows Apple is making, who Apple is working with, how much Apple's TV streaming service will cost, how it will work, and when Apple's streaming service will be available in this article.

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When Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was being interviewed for his biography that was published shortly after his death in 2011 he revealed that with regard to television he believed he had: "Finally cracked it".

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It won't be long until we can see for ourselves what Jobs had in mind. Apple has revealed that it will soon be launching an Apple TV+ streaming service. Read on to find out everything the company has revealed, including details of Apple's original programming that will be available for customers to watch.

This content will be available via a redesigned Apple TV+ app, and it will be possible to watch it on iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple TV, on various smart TVs, and on the Roku and Amazon Fire TV. (We have more details about TVs that work with the new Apple TV+ content here).

The company is redesigning its TV app that is currently available on iPhones, iPads and the Apple TV, and will be making the updated version available in the coming months. Until now Apple's media player app made it possible to search for TV shows and films across various services in one place. However, having decided what you wanted to watch, you were then pushed out to the third-party app where you could watch the content.

The new version of the app (which will be available on iPhones and iPads, and the Apple TV in May 2019, and other devices later in the year) will no longer require you to leave Apple’s TV app to watch some content, instead you will be able to watch it within the app.

This new version of the TV app will also pull in all the content you own, and will display anything you have a subscription to, and it will also offer access to new shows being produced by Apple itself once that subscription service launches.

Because you watch all the content in the app you’ll be able to get personalised recommendations from Apple’s own team of editors. The app should show content that is more in line with what you like to watch, making it easier to find shows you like.

When will Apple's streaming service be available?

Apple says that the updated Apple TV app is coming to iPhone, iPad and Apple TV customers in over 100 countries with a free software update this May, and to Mac this autumn (probably when the next version of macOS launches).

The new content bring produced by Apple's creative partners won't be available until the autumn.

Where will you be able to watch Apple TV+

In its current iteration the TV app is only available in 10 counties, but the new service will be available in 100 countries.

You will be able to watch everything available in the TV app on iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple TV and also TVs from Samsung, LG, Sony, Vizio, and on Roku and Amazon FireTV. We have a complete guide to what you can watch Apple TV on here.

You will also be able to download shows to watch offline, according to Apple.

  • The Apple TV app will be available on Samsung smart TVs this spring.
  • The Mac version of the app will launch in the autumn.
  • The app will also be available on Amazon Fire TV, LG, Roku, Sony and VIZIO platforms "in the future," according to Apple. 
  • In addition, customers with eligible VIZIO, Samsung, LG and Sony smart TVs will be able to play videos and other content from their iPhone or iPad directly to their smart TVs using AirPlay 2.

What will Apple streaming cost?

Apple hasn't confirmed this yet. The company says pricing will be announced in the autumn.

We do know that the Apple TV Plus service will be ad free.

We also know that users will be able to share Apple TV+ and subscriptions to Apple TV channels via Family Sharing.

There have been suggestions that the new service could be free. BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield believes Apple will give the content away for free.

It wouldn't be typical of Apple to give away the content for free though, so we think it's more likely there will be a subscription model.

What services will be included

Netflix has already confirmed that it won't be included - it's not clear if this means it will be leaving the TV app completely (it is currently possible to search for Netflix content via the app). Which other services will be available from inside Apple's TV app?

Content will also be available from more than 150 streaming apps, according to Apple. These will include Amazon Prime and Hulu.

In the US, at least, you can expect content from the following:

  • Mubi
  • Epix
  • CBS
  • Comedy Central
  • Eros Now
  • Sundance Now
  • Nick Hits
  • Smithsonian Plus
  • Starz
  • Showtime
  • HBO
  • Cinemac
  • PBS Libing
  • Dropout
  • Acorn TV
  • Britbox
  • MTV Hits Curiosity Stream
  • History
  • TasteMade

Apple says that from May 2019 customers will be able to subscribe to content from satellite and cable providers via a simple process that takes "just a couple of steps".

And anything you rent or buy on iTunes will also be available to watch through the TV app.

Will Apple change iTunes Video to a subscription model?

Long before Netflix and Amazon Prime, Apple was selling TV shows and films on iTunes. You might have forgotten but you can still find tons of movies, TV shows and more on iTunes. The problem is that you have to pay to either own or rent. And if you already pay monthly for Netflix and Prime you might not be so keen on actually buying or renting a show, even if you could see it on iTunes before it comes to Netflix or Amazon.

This has always been Apple's model for iTunes. Now that the company is bringing its own content that we assume will be part of a subscription package, will the existing content you can buy or rent on iTunes be available to subscribers too?

We hope so, but to date the company has not announced plans to offer iTunes content as part of the subscription package.

What will Apple's streaming service offer?

We might be unclear about whether Apple will be offering licenced content as part of the subscription to Apple TV+, but we do know that Apple is going to be bringing programmes from various artists to its Apple TV+ app.

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 now we can see what the company has up its sleeve.

Apple showcased a number of different artists describing their new shows that will be made available via the service.

Many of these shows weren't surprises as the company has been unable to keep rumours and snippets of information getting out about its plans here, so we already knew about quite a few of the shows the company is working on.

Here are a few of the shows you can expect to see. We have a complete guide to the shows Apple is making, and what you can watch on Apple TV right now here

Apple's TV and film team

Apple's Eddy Cue has been building a video team for some time. The video team is based in Los Angeles and is lead by two ex-Sony Pictures execs Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who have shows such as Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul under their belt, have worked at Sony for 15 years (Amburg) and 20 years (Erlicht).

Erlicht and Amburg appeared on stage at the Apple Showtime event to talk through the new service.

When he was given the job in June 2017, Erlicht said: "It will be an honor to be part of the Apple team. We want to bring to video what Apple has been so successful with in their other services and consumer products - unparalleled quality," according to a report on Deadline Hollywood.

In September 2017 Matt Cherniss, president of US TV broadcasting company WGN, joined the team. He was behind shows such as Manhattan and Salem and has previously worked for Sony, Warner Bros. Pictures and Fox.

And in late October 2017 Apple added the former controller of BBC One and chief creative officer of Channel 4, Jay Hunt, to its team of creatives working on video content. Hunt was behind shows like Sherlock, Luther, and then helped Channel 4 buy The Great British Bake Off. In her new role at Apple she will be creative director Europe, worldwide video. It is thought that she will be commissioning programming on behalf of Apple for Europe and the UK market.

In February 2018 Apple hired Gaumont Television executive Carol Trussell as Head of Production at its Worldwide Video Programming division. When at Gaumont, Trussell was responsible for Narcos and Hannibal amongst other shows. She was previously a producer for HBO's True Blood

Apple also hired The Paramount Network's Dana Tuinier as creative executive for comedy. Before Paramount, Tuinier worked at Fox on shows including New Girl, Almost Human and Glee.

A July 2018 TBI Vision reported that Apple had hired head of BBC Films Joe Oppenheimer to join the international team. Oppenheimer will be tasked with sourcing programming internationally, according to TBI Vision. His film credits include I, Daniel Blake and Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.

Then in December 2018 it emerged that Apple has signed a deal with Justin Lin's entertainment company, Perfect Storm. Lin directed some of the Fast and Furious movies, as well as some episodes of Community and True Detective. Lin worked with Sony Pictures TV for six years on Sony TV shows including Scorpion, S.W.A.T and Magnum PI.

Apple is also forming a team of people with awards strategy experience. In January 2019, the company hired someone who'd been employed in Disney's television group. The company is also said to be seeking a high-level candidate to oversee the process, according to Bloomberg sources.

The Bloomberg report suggest that Apple is aiming to get award nominations for its original content. That report suggests that Apple could be in the running for Emmy awards by 2020.

In order to be nominated for an award Apple might have to release movies in the cinema. The company is known to have already purchased one movie at the Sundance Film Festival, Hala from Cartoon Saloon, mentioned below.