Like Disney and AT&T, Apple is getting into the streaming game with a new service called Apple TV Plus. Apple TV+, which is live now, doesn’t have a deep content library like Netflix or Hulu, but some of the biggest names in Hollywood are getting paid big bucks to create exclusive content for the service. Interested in signing up for Apple TV+? Here’s everything you need to know.
Cost and availability
Apple TV+ launched on November 1 and costs $5 a month. That’s $4 cheaper than Netflix’s bottom-tier subscription and a lot less than its maxed-out $16-per-month Premium membership.
Not sold? If you purchased a new Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, or Mac after September 10, you can get a year’s worth of Apple TV+ at no extra cost. Students who subscribe to Apple Music for $5 a month get Apple TV+ free. For everyone else, a bundle combining Apple TV+ and Apple Music, which cost $15 a month when bought separately, is said to be in the works.
Current and upcoming content
The Apple TV+ launch line up and its upcoming projects feature shows and movies from many high-profile actors and filmmakers.
Apple TV+’s flagship show is The Morning Show, a series that explores the behind-the-scenes drama of a morning news show. Apple has already ordered two seasons of the series, which brings Steve Carell back to television as part of a high-powered cast that includes Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.
All of that star power doesn’t come cheap, though: Every episode of The Morning Show reportedly costs over $15 million, making it more expensive than the final season of Game of Thrones. A teaser trailer for The Morning Show (see below) was released in August.
Apple TV+ also includes the alternate-history drama For All Mankind. Created by Battlestar Galactica‘s Ronald D. Moore, For All Mankind explores what would have happened if the international space race never ended. Season one is available now, while season two is already in pre-production.
A half-hour comedy called Dickinson stars Hailee Steinfeld as Emily Dickinson, the American poet who became famous years after her death. Apple describes the series as a look at “the constraints of society, gender, and family from the perspective of [the] rebellious young poet.” Despite its 1800s setting, the show features several modern flourishes. Apple has already ordered a second season.
Apple is also reportedly investing heavily in the post-apocalyptic drama See, which stars Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard and is set in a world where what remains of humanity has been rendered blind due to a terrifying virus. Like For All Mankind and Dickinson, See season two got the go-ahead before the Apple TV+ launch.
Servant, a creepy drama from The Sixth Sense and Glass creator M. Night Shyamalan, tells the story of a young couple played by Lauren Ambrose and Toby Kebbell who lose their baby and cope by adopting a doll, which they treat as though it is real. They even hire a nanny (Nell Tiger Free) to care for the fake child, although there might be more to the young woman than she lets on. Harry Potter‘s Rupert Grint also stars.
Other launch titles include a reboot of ’90s kids show Ghostwriter, an educational puppet series called Helpsters from Sesame Workshop (the same company that makes Sesame Street), Oprah’s Book Club, and the animated Peanuts spin-off Snoopy in Space.
Stephen Spielberg is producing two upcoming series for Apple TV+. One is a reboot of Spielberg’s ’80s sci-fi/fantasy/horror anthology series, Amazing Stories. The other is Masters of the Air, Spielberg’s follow-up to Band of Brothers and The Pacific, which Tom Hanks co-produces.
While nothing has come of it yet, Apple recently signed a major deal with Gravity and Children of Men director Alfonso Cuarón. Under the terms of the pact, Cuarón will develop TV shows exclusively for Apple TV+. The partnership is said to last for five years.
Apple outbid rivals, including Netflix, to secure the rights for a musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds. Reportedly, Apple is paying $60 million for the cast alone, putting A Christmas Carol‘s budget somewhere around $100 million, according to industry estimates. For a streaming-only movie, that’s a lot.
An adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s celebrated sci-fi saga Foundation starring Jared Harris (Chernobyl) and Lee Pace (Guardians of the Galaxy, Halt and Catch Fire) begins filming soon. On the Rocks is an original feature film that will reunite Oscar-winning Lost in Translation director Sofia Coppola with star Bill Murray. An untitled comedy series from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia duo Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day, a scripted series titled Swagger based on the life of NBA star Kevin Durant, and the animated series Central Park from Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard are also on the way.
Other projects announced so far include the musical drama Little Voice produced by J.J. Abrams and musician Sara Bareilles; the anthology series Little America from the Oscar-winning duo behind The Big Sick, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon; Octavia Spencer’s Truth Be Told mystery series, a drama about a Muslim-American teenager titled Hala; and a Taika Waititi-led adaptation of Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits.
Naturally, Apple TV+ is available on all modern Apple hardware, including all iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices capable of running the latest operating systems, the Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD, and third-generation Apple TVs. You can access Apple TV+ via Safari, Chrome, or Firefox web browsers, Samsung Smart TVs, and Roku devices. The Apple TV app is expected to come to Amazon Fire TV hardware soon.
Audio and video
All Apple TV+ original series will be available in 4K HDR, and most will also support Dolby Atmos sound. Apple TV+ supports up to six simultaneous streams across one subscription, and up to six family members can create their own profiles using their own Apple login credentials. Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users can also download Apple TV+ content to watch offline.
Beating Netflix at its own game
In addition to all of the projects listed above, Apple TV+ is going after Netflix in a big way. The tech giant is planning to make six small-budget, award-worthy films every year, with an eye on generating buzz for the service and nabbing some Academy Award nominations along the way.
According to the New York Post, the original Apple TV+ films will cost between $5 and $30 million each and will be helmed by “elevated” Hollywood talent. The move towards original content was inspired by Netflix’s Roma, a 2019 Best Picture contender that won Best Foreign Film. Focus Features, the studio behind BlacKkKlansman, Lady Bird, and Dallas Buyer’s Club, is also a big inspiration.
As the Post notes, Apple doesn’t have the kind of content backlog that you’ll find on Disney+ or the same Hollywood connections as Netflix or Hulu. In addition to getting Apple TV+ some attention during awards season, producing a slate of new films will be a good way to generate material for the streaming service.
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