What is Apple’s new streaming TV service? When will it launch, and how much will it cost?

Apple is joining Disney+ in planning to launch a streaming TV service in 2019 – but what will it have that Netflix and Amazon Prime Video doesn't?

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UPDATE: An Apple event at 1pm ET (5pm GMT in the UK) on Monday March 25 is expected to announce Apple’s new services, expected to include both a TV streaming service and a news aggregation service. 

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How to watch Apple’s March event live online: Apple will be live streaming its announcement from the Steve Jobs Theater at its headquarters in Cupertino, California. Watch the video here, and read on for more information about Apple’s proposed streaming TV service below.

Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have dominated the streaming TV market – but could that be about to change?

2019 will see the arrival of Disney’s own streaming service Disney+, and Apple is set to enter the market too with its own original offering.

Apple has a string of shows in the pipeline, with various A-listers like Oprah Winfrey and Big Little Lies’ Reese Witherspoon as well as British talent including Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight already signed up.

So what can we expect from Apple’s streaming service — and how will it measure-up in an increasingly crowded market? Here’s everything you need to know.


What is Apple’s streaming service?

Apple’s streaming service will, like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, develop original movie and TV content which will be available exclusively on its own system. See below more details about specific shows.

This is the next logical step following their first foray into original programming, releasing brand new content like Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps on Apple Music.

“We will participate in the original content world,” Apple CEO Tim Cook recently told investors. “We have signed a multi-year partnership with Oprah. But today I’m not ready to extend that conversation beyond that point. We’ve hired some great people that I have a super amount of confidence in and they’re working really hard.”

Reportedly, the company is also looking to partner with companies like HBO and Hulu, acting as a gateway to their content through possible bundled subscriptions. Netflix however has already confirmed that it will not participate in this ‘bundle’ offer programme: chief executive Reed Hastings said in March that Netflix “has chosen not to integrate with [Apple’s] service.”

However, it is still unclear what form Apple’s streaming service will take, although it is expected to be offered as an app on iPhones and iPads, as well as the existing Apple TV box.

There have been predictions that Apple’s streaming service will be made available to other non-Apple devices and TV brands, as the company seeks to expand its business beyond its traditional hardware.

Doesn’t Apple already have a TV service?

Yes, but Apple’s existing TV offering is essentially a set-top box rather than a full TV service provider. The Apple TV streaming box allows users to access different apps from other companies – including BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video and ITV Hub – on one landing page, as well as rentals and purchases from iTunes.

This Apple TV box has been around in one form or another since as far back as 2006, but Apple’s plans to enter the movie and TV streaming marketplace is set to be a significant step up for the company.

When will Apple’s streaming service launch?

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 22: In this photo illustration, the logos of the IGTV, Instagram, maps.me, Youtube and Snapchat applications are displayed on the screen of an Apple iPhone on June 22, 2018 in Paris, France. Instagram has launched Wednesday IGTV, a new application allowing users to publish videos in excess of 60 seconds today allowed. With one billion users now, Instagram is taking advantage of its success with a young audience eager to share photos and videos, to compete with the YouTube video platform. (Photo Illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)

We could see the launch of Apple’s streaming service as early as mid-April 2019, according to a recent report in The Information. This would mean that Apple’s TV streaming service would launch before Disney+, which is due out at the end of the year.

Will Apple’s streaming service be available in the UK?

Like Disney+, it is currently unclear whether Apple’s new streaming service will launch in the UK at the same time as the US. Like iTunes, Apple’s streaming service could be region-specific, meaning that even when the service is launched the shows and movies available could differ.

Apple’s existing TV service currently has far more functionality in the States compared to the UK. However, if the company genuinely wants to become a rival to the increasingly globally-focused Netflix, the expectation would be that customers outside the US will need to see a significant uptick in both functionality and content.

What new shows and movies have been announced?

Apple has already signed various deals with studios, including independent film studio A24 and the Oprah Winfrey Network.

A report in the New York Times ahead of an Apple event on 25th March suggested that around 11 TV series have either completed filming or are nearing the end of production.

This is expected to be the first wave of original shows for the new streaming service. Some of the projects in the pipeline include:

  • a scripted drama about a morning show, starring Friends’ Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. Two seasons have reportedly been commissioned, with a cast also including the likes of Steve Carrell and Mark Duplass.
  • a revived Steven Spielberg anthology series called Amazing Stories
  • A mystery thriller starring Oscar winner Octavia Spencer called Are You Sleeping?
  • a space drama with Battlestar Galactica creator Ron Moore, reportedly titled For All Mankind
  • a TV thriller from Glass and Unbreakable creator M Night Shyamalan
  • A comedy series from the stars and producers of hit sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  • Little America, an anthology series led by The American Office producer Lee Eisenberg and the writers of The Big Sick
  • a children’s TV series from Sesame Workshop, the maker of Sesame Street
  • a TV series from La La Land and Whiplash’s Damien Chazelle
  • An adaptation of Terry Gilliam’s 1981 film Time Bandits
  • an adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s science fiction novel Foundation.

The service is also working with Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight on a new sci-fi series called See, about a future where all humans are blind apart from a single set of twins. The show stars Aquaman’s Jason Momoa and is directed by The Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence.

This is just a taster of some of the content Apple has been linked to, with much more to follow.

Why has Apple entered the streaming game at this point in time?

In 2017 Apple announced that it would invest approximately $1 billion in original TV shows, while hiring top executives from Sony in the US and Channel 4 in the UK to help them drive the new venture.

However, while their original content investment developed apace, Apple has shared very little information about exactly how this content will be delivered.

The marketplace is becoming increasingly crowded, with Disney+ also set to launch in 2019.

Netflix, by contrast, launched House of Cards all the way back in 2013, announcing itself as a serious original content player.

Since then the streaming service has developed a global subscriber base and, this year, is even bidding for Best Picture at the 2019 Oscars with film Roma.

Roma (Netflix)
Roma (Netflix)

How much will Apple’s TV service cost?

It’s not clear yet how much the service will cost, and whether or not it will be accessible to already-existing iOS and Apple TV subscribers, or require a separate account.

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How do I sign up for Apple’s streaming service?

With the service yet to launch, it is unclear yet exactly how the subscription will operate, although existing Apple users will likely be able to access content via their iCloud account. This page will be updated with more information regularly.