This week brings the highly anticipated launch of Apple’s standalone streaming platform, Apple TV+. We’re all about to dive headlong into a brave new world of a la carte streaming options, with Apple to be followed by Disney+, HBO Max, and Peacock (the upcoming service from NBC Universal). All this, in addition to the Peak TV we’ve all struggled to navigate for several years now, has the very real possibility of turning a bounty of television options into a nightmare of impossible choices.
Now more than ever, it’s important to beef up the “informed” part of “;informed consumer.”; We can debate for weeks and months about what the launch of Apple TV+ and the next wave of streamers mean for the industry and consumers (and we certainly will), but the first order of business is a bit more practical. Here’s your guide to everything you need to know about the launch of Apple TV+.
Not to be confused with Apple TV, the company’s digital media player hardware and software (or Apple TV Channels, which aggregates subscription streaming services from CBS, HBO, Showtime for viewing on Apple devices), Apple TV+ (pronounced “Apple TV Plus”) is the company’s own commercial-free premium subscription service and the centerpiece of its efforts to expand its reach into original film and television content.
First announced by Apple in March of 2019 (although its origins within the company can be traced back to 2016), Apple TV+ launches to the public Friday, November 1st, 2019.
Apple TV+ is be available through the Apple TV app on basically all the usual Apple devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV 4K, Apple TV HD, and third-generation Apple TVs. As of this month, the Apple TV app is also available on Roku devices, as well as the Amazon Fire Stick. In addition, it’ll be available on Samsung Smart TVs, and PCs running Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
The good news if you’re cost conscious is that Apple TV+ will only set you back $4.99 a month, which puts it at a lower price point than CBS All Access and Hulu’s ad-supported plan ($5.99/month), the upcoming Disney+ ($6.99), an the cheapest Netflix tier ($8.99). The upcoming HBO Max will cost $14.99 a month. Yes, there’s a whole tier of free (or nearly free) streaming services, but none offer the kind of premium original content offered by the services above.
Yes, you can. Apple is offering first-time subscribers (which, at launch, will be everyone) the first seven days of their Apple TV+ subscription for free. (Cancel anytime before those seven days are up and your credit card won’t be charged.) The company is also offering a full year’s subscription for free to anyone who purchases a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac, or iPod touch after September 10th of this year. (You’ll need to activate your subscription within three months of buying the product.)
Apple TV+ launches with eight original series (and one feature length film), with plans to launch new original content thereafter. The relatively small library of titles probably explains the relatively affordable price point. But the draw for Apple TV+ at launch ;isn’t meant to be volume but rather the talent. The series made available at launch feature the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Momoa, Alfre Woodard, Ronald D. Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, and Oprah Winfrey.
Additionally, Apple has works in production (TV series and feature films) from the likes of Steven Spielberg, JJ Abrams, Sofia Coppola, Ron Howard, M. Night Shyamalan, Damien Chazelle, Alfonso Cuaron, Kumail Nanjiani & Emily V. Gordon, and a new version of A Christmas Carol starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds.
The service is set to launch with four scripted series, three kids series, one non-scripted series and one feature-length documentary, as follows:
A sexy, fun, darkly comedic vision of the life of poet Emily Dickinson. While the setting and action all still take place in the mid-1800s, the tone, dialogue, and general sensibility are all very modern. Hailee Steinfeld stars, along with Jane Krakowski, Toby Huss, Wiz Khalifa, and John Mulaney. The idea here is that Emily Dickinson is a young woman who doesn’t fit in her own time, so her rebelliousness is reflected in the show’s clash of setting and tone.
The Morning Show
Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell star in this drama about a popular network morning show whose backstage politics are sent into chaos when the male co-anchor is axed in a Matt Lauer-esque sexual-harassment scandal. Soon, Aniston and Witherspoon’s characters are pitted against each other. The rest of the VERY starry cast includes Billy Crudup, Mark Duplass, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Jack Davenport, with The Leftovers’; Mimi Leder behind the camera.
Directors Steven Knight (who wrote and directed this year’s bonkers Serenity) and Francis Lawrence (who directed the latter three Hunger Games films) are teaming up on this post-apocalyptic epic about a future version of humanity where we’ve all lost the ability to see. Suddenly, a pair of twins are born who can see. WHAT THEN?? Jason Momoa (Aquaman) and Alfre Woodard (Clemency) co-star.
For All Mankind
Ronald D. Moore, who helmed the reboot of the classic sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica, is back with this alternate-history drama, where the Soviets beat the United States to the moon and thus the global space race never ended, pushing to further and more spectacular goalposts. It’;s all very rousing.
Coming from the people behind Sesame Street, this children’s series will take on the ambitious goal of teaching kids how to code.
Snoopy in Space
Perhaps sticking with a theme from For All Mankind, this new series of animated Peanuts shorts sees Snoopy sign up to be an astronaut.
A reboot of the 90s kids series, Ghostwriter follows four kids who are brought together by a mysterious ghost in a neighborhood bookstore.
Oprah’s Book Club
Oprah’s wildly popular book club returns as a bi-monthly series, although it remains to be seen which books will be featured and how the book-club discussions will play out.
The Elephant Queen
The sole feature film to be included with Apple TV+ at launch, The Elephant Queen is a documentary following a herd of elephants in Africa as they cross the continent in search of water. The film opened in limited release theatrically on October 18th.
Apple appears to be borrowing a page from Hulu for its launch, releasing three episodes of most of the launch series to start, with subsequent episodes released weekly thereafter. The company has said that moving forward it may release certain shows all at once.
Following its initial launch, Apple TV+ is expected to introduce a handful of new shows and movies each month. Here are the projects for which dates have been announced:
Hala (November 22, 2019): Feature film produced by Jada Pinkett-Smith about a 17 year-old torn between her traditional muslim upbringing and her modern high school.
Servant(November 28, 2019): Nell Tiger Free (Game of Thrones) returns to series television in M. Night Shyamalan’s new psychological thriller. Watch the teaser
Truth Be Told (December 6, 2019): Based on the novel Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber, this ten part series stars Octavia Spencer, Aaron Paul and Lizzy Caplan. Watch the trailer
Central Park (January 31, 2020): Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Tituss Burgess, Kristen Bell and Stanley Tucci provide the voices for this animated musical series about a group of caretakers in New York’s Central Park from the minds behind Bob’s Burgers.
The Banker(January 31, 2020): Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Mackie star in this Jim Crow-era drama set for theatrical release in early December.
Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.
TOPICS: Apple TV+, Dickinson, For All Mankind, The Morning Show, Oprah's Book Club, See, Hailee Steinfeld, Jason Momoa, Jennifer Aniston, J.J. Abrams, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Steven Spielberg