Apple has not been remotely secretive about its plans to offer its customers a video subscription service, especially after news broke in 2017 that Apple had hired two presidents away from Sony Pictures Entertainment to oversee “all aspects of video programming”.
However, since then, nothing concrete was heard of from Apple, till today at the company’s Its Showtime event where Apple unveiled its on-demand, subscription service Apple TV+. The video subscription service will feature exclusive original shows, movies, and documentaries and will be available in over 100 countries by fall 2019, such as HBO.
We’re honored that the absolute best lineup of storytellers in the world — both in front of and behind the camera — are
coming to Apple TV+
Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services
The company already has a long list of shows in development for its new service, all produced by or starring several big-name directors and actors: Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Octavia Spencer, Ron Howard, M. Night Shyamalan, Sofia Coppola, Damian Chazelle, Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.
During the presentation, Spielberg even took to the stage to talk about his longtime love for the Amazing Stories magazine, which is also the show that he will be executive producing for Apple TV+.
Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon also made an appearance to promote their upcoming project The Morning Show, based on Brian Stelter’s book of the same name, while Jason Momoa also took to the stage with Alfre Woodard to talk a little about their show See?
Apple TV+ aside, how cool is it knowing that Aquaman, Rachel Green, Elle Woods, and Steven Spielberg were all in the same room backstage while waiting for their turn to present.
To top it all off, Big Bird (Yes, that Big Bird) also appeared on stage in all his yellow feathered glory to talk about the new Sesame Workshop production aimed at teaching pre-schoolers more about coding, called Helpsters.
It’s obvious from Apple’s lineup of actors and directors that they went for all the biggest names they could find in hopes of starting off their video subscription service on the right foot. But there are already challenges that Apple faces, even if their new service is still very much in the pipeline.
One such problem is the company’s insistence on being a family-friendly programme. As the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg have reported, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has pushed back strongly against violence and sex appearing in Apple TV+’s lineup of programmes, even going so far as to cancel shows when it does not go in line with their views.
Coupled to that the fact that Netflix, which will inevitably be Apple’s biggest competitor in the business, has always been known for giving its creators unparalleled leeway for creativity, you can start to see why being a difficult partner can make future collaborations difficult.
Then again, with access to over 1.4 billion screens across the world (That’s the amount of Apple devices in the market today), it will surely be a major boon to Hollywood, knowing that their shows will be immediately accessible to so many viewers.
“Apple’s in a billion pockets, y’all,” Oprah Winfrey, who was also at the Apple event to promote both her documentary projects, said to the audience. “A billion pockets!”
As of now, Apple has yet to release any pricing details for the Apple TV+.
Additionally, Apple has also released their all-new Apple TV app which will be available on the iPhone, Apple TV, and iPad from May via a software update and on the Mac from fall 2019. The app will also be available on selected television brands, such as Samsung, Sony, and LG.
Users will be able to pay for and watch only the content that they want, such as HBO or SHOWTIME, and there are also pay-per-view channels so customers no longer need to subscribe to an entire bundle or cable package just to watch the few shows they want. Plus it’s all ad-free.
Apple TV is less a competitor to Netflix and more a aggregator of television shows, hence it is a little more like Amazon Prime Video. It will also use human editors and built-in algorithms to based on the users viewing habits to push shows that the user might like.
While the notion of multiple broadcasters and content provider being on a single platform isn’t a novel one, with Amazon Prime Video already doing it, Apple is banking on the notion that it can provide a more seamless service to market the Apple TV app better.