Apple unveiled its long-rumour ad-free subscription streaming service, ‘Apple TV+’, at its ‘Show Time’ event in Cupertino California today, officially throwing itself into the war for the living room. Apple dedicated a large amount of the event to showcasing its original content for the service, including a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s ‘Amazing Stories’, a talk-show themed drama called ‘The Morning Shows’, and an unnamed sci-fi show starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard.
Apple TV+ doesn’t have any particularly unique angle to it – rather Apple seemingly hopes the new service will sell on the strength of its content line up. Apple trotted out a number of celebrities to announce the new shows, including Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell, JJ Abrams (and Big Bird from Sesame Street).
Apple TV+ will debut on a revamped Apple TV app, which similar to Amazon’s Prime Channels service, will enable users to buy subscriptions to partnering video on-demand services from within the app. TV shows and films from these different services will be displayed alongside each other, with Apple running its own recommendations to highlight content for users. Perhaps the most significant update to the service though is that it will be available on an expanded range of smart TVs and over-the-top (OTT) devices, including Samsung, LG, Sony, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
Apple’s new product enters into an increasingly crowded marketplace. New streaming services are usually dubbed ‘Netflix killers’ in the media, but Netflix will be just one of Apple TV+’s competitors. In the US, new offerings from AT&T, Disney and NBCUniversal are set to debut over the next year, while in Europe, broadcasters are teaming up for joint ventures like Britbox in the UK, Salto in France, and ProSieben and Discovery’s unnamed project in Germany.
With so many companies competing for ad revenues or, more commonly, subscription fees, it seems inevitable some will lose out. Bloomberg reported just yesterday that YouTube is scrapping plans to invest in high-end dramas and comedies, due primarily to the high spending needed to take on the entrenched players.
Apple also announced changes to Apple News, introducing a new subscription service which bundles a number of paid news subscriptions and access to digital copies of paid magazines. The service, Apple News+, will cost $9.99 per month, and includes access to The Wall Street Journal, The LA Times, and magazines including People, Time, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, GQ and Vogue.
It’s not clear whether these publications will be able to run ads in the app, but Apple’s VP of applications Roger Rosner did say that advertisers won’t be able to track users’ reading habits on the app. The new service launches in the US and Canada initially, with roll-outs planned for Australia and Europe later this year.