Apple TV+

Apple TV+ is an ad-free subscription video on demand streaming television service of Apple Inc. that debuted on November 1, 2019.[5] It was announced during their March 2019 Apple Special Event held at Steve Jobs Theater,[6][7] where celebrities involved with Apple TV+ projects appeared on-stage for the announcement, including Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Jason Momoa.[8][9]

Apple TV+
Apple TV Plus Logo.svg
DeveloperApple Inc.
Key people
  • Tim Cook
    (Apple CEO)
  • Matt Cherniss
    (Head of Domestic Creative Development)[1]
  • Morgan Wandell
    (Head of International Creative Development)[2]
  • Michelle Lee
    (Senior Creative Director)
    [3]
Launch dateNovember 1, 2019; 16 months ago (2019-11-01)[4]
Platform(s)Web at tv.apple.com
Supported OS:
- macOS, Windows, Android, Chrome OS

Apple TV app
Supported OS:
- iOS 10.2 and later, macOS 10.15 Catalina or later
Supported media devices:
- Apple TV, selected smart TVs, PlayStation, Xbox, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast with Google TV

MembersIncrease 10 million (as of November 1, 2020)
Pricing model$4.99 per month (US)
£4.99 per month (UK)
€4.99 per month (EU)
$7.99 per month (AU)
₹99 per month (IN)
R$9.90 per month (BR)
Websiteapple.com/apple-tv-plus/

Apple TV+ content is viewable through Apple's website and through Apple's TV app, which has gradually become available for many Apple devices and major competing streaming devices—with some key exceptions[10]—including large television manufacturers' smart TV models and certain video game consoles, with further plans to expand availability to more devices over time.[11][12][13][14] Subscribers without a television-connected supported device can view Apple TV+ content on a television set using various workarounds.[10]

At debut, Apple TV+ was accessible in about 100 countries, fewer than the early reported target of a global launch in 150 countries,[15][16] and not including a number of the highest population countries in the world, within some of which Apple sells other content generally.[17][18][19] However, commentators note that the fairly wide initial reach of the service will offer it an advantage over other streaming services debuting at approximately the same time in a more limited number of countries, such as Disney+, and that because Apple distributes its own content through the service instead of the third-party licensed content used by more established streaming services like Hulu, it will not be hamstrung by international content licensing issues during global expansion.[20][21][22][23]

By early 2020, Apple TV+ showed poor growth and subscriber numbers relative to competing services,[24][25][26][27] and in mid-2020 Apple began efforts to license older television and film content from other content holders for the service, attempting to stay competitive with other streaming services, keep a viewership base for its original content in production for the future, and convert trial users into paid users.[25][24] Apple TV+ access is included as part of Apple's new Apple One subscription bundle, in an effort to increase viewership.[28]

Apple TV+, along with the simultaneously announced Apple TV Channels a la carte premium video subscription aggregation service, is part of the company's concerted effort to expand its service revenues by making recurring monthly charge distributed video content available widely to the public.[12][29][30]

HistoryEdit

OriginsEdit

Apple had long been rumored to have an interest in beginning a streaming television service, and in 2015 entered into negotiations with various television studios and programmers to aggregate their content for a live-television streaming bundle.[31][32] Negotiations fell apart over differing views on how to value the content, lack of transparency on details, and the personality of Apple's chief negotiator, Eddy Cue.[31]

In October 2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook was reported as saying that television is "of intense interest to me and other people here." He added that Apple has "started focusing on some original content" which he called "a great opportunity for us both from a creation point of view and an ownership point of view. So it's an area we're focused on."[33]

StaffingEdit

In June 2017, Apple began to take the first major steps in forming its new television unit by hiring the co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television, Jamie Elricht and Zack van Amburg, to oversee all aspects of worldwide video programming.[32][34] Staff acquisition and financial investments rapidly followed as many additional people were brought on board.

Development news reportsEdit

In May 2018, it was reported that Apple was expected to start a sister project to its original content service, and begin selling subscriptions to certain video services directly via its TV application on iOS and tvOS, rather than asking Apple device owners to subscribe to those services through applications individually downloaded from Apple's application store.[35]

In October 2018, it was reported that Apple would be distributing their future original content through a still-in-development digital video service to be located within their TV application that is pre-installed in all iOS and tvOS devices. The service was expected to feature both original content, free to owners of Apple devices, as well as subscription "channels" from legacy media companies such as HBO and Starz, which would allow customers to sign up for online-only services.[36] Later that month, it was further reported that Apple intended to roll out the service in the United States during the first half of 2019 and that it would expand its availability to around 100 countries in the months following its initial launch.[37]

Announcements detailsEdit

On March 25, 2019, Apple held a press event to announce Apple TV+. At the event, Apple showed a teaser of its upcoming original content and formally announced some of its content, with actors and producers attached to the content appearing on stage. The announced content included Helpsters, the first series from Sesame Workshop, the producer of Sesame Street, and Oprah Winfrey's first projects for Apple TV+, including a documentary under the working title Toxic Labor[38] about workplace sexual harassment, a documentary series about mental health as well as a revival of Oprah's Book Club as a standalone television series.[39][40]

On September 10, 2019, Apple announced that Apple TV+ would launch on November 1, 2019, at $4.99 per month (with a 1-week free trial) for an account that can be shared with up to six family members. Apple also announced that they would be giving away a year of Apple TV+ for free to anyone who bought a new Apple TV, Mac, iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch beginning that same day.[41] Student subscribers to the monthly Apple Music service at a discounted rate also have Apple TV+ bundled in at no additional cost for the time being.[42]

ProgrammingEdit

During the announcement of Apple TV+, Apple announced a number of prominent names of writers, directors, and stars that will be featured in the service. Apple decided to use the very large budget set aside for the service to pay for celebrity entertainers and high-profile talent as a "catnip" to draw viewers to Apple TV+.[43]

As of March 2019, five of the upcoming series had already completed production, with six more already well into filming.[44] On September 10, 2019, Apple announced that Apple TV+ would have eight original series (seven scripted and one non-scripted) and one original documentary available at launch, with plans to launch new original content every month thereafter. Most series are expected to launch with three episodes, with a new episode being released weekly thereafter, although Apple has stated that not all series will follow this model and that some series might instead launch all at once.[45]

Early critical reaction to the bulk of the service's programming was mixed to poor, but with commentators predicting that Apple would have time to grow into its new role as a content provider and to produce well-regarded content, especially as the free year of the service provided with many Apple product purchases would entice users to continue watching, and for some to eventually pay for a subscription, as new series are released.[46][47][11]

COVID-19 pandemic effectsEdit

On March 13, 2020, Apple suspended all active filming on Apple TV+ shows due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and all production on series was postponed for an undetermined period of time.[48]

Apple's decision in mid-2020 to license large swaths of existing older content for the Apple TV+ service was viewed, in part, as buying time for its original content production during the pandemic difficulties, by keeping users engaged and in a habit of visiting the service regularly, so that a viewer base would be in place by the time new sets of Apple original content are released.[25][24]

In addition, the service endeavored to gain new high-profile content, taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic's disruption of theatrical film releases. Among these acquisitions were the 2020 feature film Greyhound starring Tom Hanks, which was purchased from Sony for $70 million.[49] In July 2020, the service won a heated bidding war for Emancipation, a slavery-based action-thriller starring Will Smith and directed by Antoine Fuqua.[50] Apple paid a record $105 million for the rights, which will possibly exceed $120 million after all backend deals are completed.[50] Apple also reportedly considered a $350 to $400 million offer for the rights to stream the James Bond film No Time to Die, which was far short of the $650 to $800 million studio MGM was willing to accept.[51]

Chronology of celebrity partnerships and other original content and programming decisionsEdit

2017Edit

In October 2017, following reports of sexual abuse allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein, Apple announced that they were severing ties with The Weinstein Company and cancelling a planned biopic series about Elvis Presley.[52]

2018Edit

In April 2018, Apple signed Kerry Ehrin to a multi-year deal to produce original content.[53] Ehrin and Apple renewed the multi-year deal in May 2020.

In June 2018, Apple signed the Writer's Guild of America's minimum basic agreement and Oprah Winfrey to a multi-year content partnership.[54][55] That same month, Apple announced that they given a multi-series order to Sesame Workshop to produce various Live action and animated series as well as a single puppet-based series.[56]

In September 2018, it was reported that Apple had decided to shelve Vital Signs, a six-episode biopic television series centering on the life of hip-hop producer and performer Dr. Dre and starring Ian McShane, Sam Rockwell, and Michael K. Williams, due to concerns about the show's content being too graphic with moments cited including characters using cocaine, instances of gun violence, and an explicit orgy scene. Reports further indicated that Apple CEO Tim Cook was taking a hands-on approach in regards to the company's Worldwide Video Unit with programming decisions reportedly being aligned to Cook's personal tastes, with a preference for family-friendly shows. Various programs in different stages of production have apparently had their content altered including the toning down of the Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston morning show drama series and the removal of crucifixes from a scene in the M. Night Shyamalan drama series. Additionally, Apple reportedly passed on a television series from comedian Whitney Cummings about the #MeToo movement because it was "too sensitive a topic."[57][58][59] The Cummings series was ultimately put into development by Amazon Video in October 2018.[60]

In November 2018, Apple entered into a multi-year agreement with entertainment company A24 to produce a slate of original films in partnership with their Worldwide Video Unit.[61]

That same month, Apple signed a deal with DHX Media, and its subsidiary Peanuts Worldwide, to develop and produce original programs, including new series, specials and shorts based on the Peanuts characters created by Charles M. Schulz. One of the first productions created through the deal was an original short-form, STEM-related series featuring astronaut Snoopy.[62] Also that month, Apple signed Justin Lin, and his production company Perfect Storm Entertainment, to a multi-year overall deal to produce original television content.[63]

2019Edit

In January 2019, Apple signed Jason Katims, and his production company True Jack Productions, to a multi-year overall production and development deal to produce original television content.[64] That same month, Apple signed a first look deal with Imagine Documentaries to develop non-fiction features and series.[65] In February 2019, Harpo Productions hired Terry Wood as executive Vice President in which Wood will oversee Harpo's production of original programming for Apple as part of the multi-year agreement between Oprah Winfrey and Apple.[66] In March 2019, it was reported that five television series commissioned by Apple had finished filming and six series would finish filming in the next few months.[67]

On April 10, 2019, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, announced on Instagram that he was working alongside Winfrey on the mental health documentary series as a co-creator and executive producer.[68]

In October 2019, Apple signed Monica Beletsky to multi-year deal.[69]

2020Edit

In January 2020, Apple signed a five-year production deal with Richard Plepler, the former CEO and chairman of HBO. Under the production deal, Plepler's production company Eden Productions will create television series, documentaries and feature films exclusively for Apple TV+.[70] Also in January 2020, Apple signed a multi-year deal with Lee Eisenberg, ahead of the premiere of his series Little America, as well as another multi-year deal with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Louis-Dreyfus is set to develop new projects as both executive producer and star.[71][72]

In May 2020, Apple signed a two-year production deal with Annie Weisman, the creator of Almost Family. As part of her deal with Apple, Weisman will create television projects exclusively for Apple TV+.[69]

In July 2020, Apple signed a multi-year deal with The Maurice Sendak Foundation, to produce new children's television series and specials based on the books and illustrations of Maurice Sendak.[73]

In August 2020, Apple signed a multi-year first look deal with Leonardo DiCaprio's film and television production company, Appian Way Productions.[74] Also in August 2020, Apple signed a multi-year first look deal with Martin Scorsese's film and television production company, Sikelia Productions.[75]

In September 2020, Apple officially acquired the film Cherry, which is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and stars Tom Holland in the lead role, for around $40 million. It is scheduled to have a theatrical release on February 26, 2021, before streaming exclusively on Apple TV+ on March 12.[76][77]

In October 2020, Apple announced it had struck a deal with comedian and former anchor of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, Jon Stewart, to host a regular, hour-long series on topics of national interest, expected to become available beginning in 2021.[78]

2021Edit

In January 2021, Apple TV+ announced a new show called WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork that follows the launch, rise, and fall of WeWork. Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway will be playing the parts of Adam and Rebekah Neumann.[79] In addition, Apple bought the Sundance Film Festival hit CODA, about a girl who is the only person in her family who can hear, paying a festival-record $25 million for the worldwide rights to the film.[80]

In February 2021, it was reported that Apple and Skydance Animation entered into a multi-year partnership to develop animated kids and family films and television programs.[81] A few months prior, Apple acquired the global distribution rights to Skydance's upcoming Luck and Spellbound films.[82]

In March 2021, Apple announced a multi-year programming partnership with Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.[83]

Acquisition of back catalog film and TV contentEdit

In mid-2020, Apple began discussions with film and television studios to license their previously released content as part of an effort to build a back catalog of non-original films and television shows for the streaming service.[26][25] The shift was designed to help the service better compete against the large content libraries offered by competitors like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+.[26] This represented a pivot for Apple, which had initially attempted to build the service entirely on original content, avoiding licensing fees to help keep monthly subscription fees low, and relying on its Apple TV Channels content partners to supply other content users wanted.[26][25]

Analysts believed that the addition of older, highly re-watchable content like popular sitcoms and well liked films would help to retain the slowly growing subscriber base, while Apple continues to develop original content.[24] The shift was also an acknowledgement of poor growth, especially relative to competing services.[24]

The back catalog development was also seen as a move by Apple to attempt to persuade free trial users to transition into paid users as the first wave of one-year trials was scheduled to expire in November 2020.[25]

On May 26, 2020, Apple announced their first acquisition of catalogue content would be the Fraggle Rock series.[84] In addition to being the exclusive home of the 1983-1987 Jim Henson Company series, Apple will develop a new full length, rebooted Fraggle Rock series after the success of the Fraggle Rock: Rock On! short-form series on Apple TV+.[85] On October 19, 2020, Apple announced the exclusive transmission rights of the various animated productions of the Peanuts franchise, withdrawing them from television after 55 years; as part of that agreement, Apple TV+ must make the major Peanuts specials available for free in short windows.[86] After an outcry from fans of the specials, Apple sublicensed A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and A Charlie Brown Christmas to PBS for commercial-free airing.[87]

Growth and impactEdit

Apple has announced a number of partnerships, bundles, and initiatives to increase subscriber growth in the service.

It has included Apple TV+ in several reduced cost bundles designed to increase uptake and stickiness of subscriptions, including a bundle with Apple Music available for students, a bundle offering CBS All Access and Showtime for an additional US$9.99 monthly for TV+ subscribers, and a bundling of the service as part of the Apple One (service) subscription package.[88][89][90]

It has partnered with large cable television MSOs and telecommunications mobile network operators, such as Altice USA,[91] the UK's EE,[92] and Ireland's Eir TV,[93][94] to offer those systems' customers Apple TV+ as part of a bundle, sometimes including an Apple TV 4K set-top box.

By February 2020, about 10 million people had signed up for Apple TV+.[26][25] This included users who received a free one-year trial with the purchase of an Apple device,[26][25] although it was estimated that less than 10% of Apple device owners eligible for the trial had activated it, perhaps out of Apple's failure to promote the service, Apple's desire to slow the uptake rate due to accounting concerns, or because of users' lack of interest in the service's perceived poor content options.[26] About half of those 10 million users actively used the service.[27] In late 2020, the continuing expansion of availability of the Apple TV app to a growing number of smart TV platforms and to newer lines of PlayStation and Xbox video game consoles (specifically, the PS4 and PS5, and the Xbox One, Series S, and Series X[95]) was seen as potentially boosting subscriber numbers for Apple TV+, including as part of Apple One subscription bundle purchases.[96] However, Apple has created no native TV app for the Windows and Android platforms, or an official method to stream the content to Chromecast or on the Android TV platform (except for select Sony Bravia television models[97]), leaving users of those devices to use a web browser to view Apple TV+ content, where possible, or to employ other workarounds, especially for sending Apple TV+ content to a television set.[10] On December 16, 2020, Google announced it would add the Apple TV app to its Chromecast with Google TV device in early 2021, and to its Android TV platform later in 2021;[98] Google subsequently made Apple TV available on its Chromecast with Google TV, as well as on select Sony and TCL smart TVs running the Google TV interface, on February 18, 2021.[99] On December 18, 2020, the British Urban Film Festival announced that it was to be the first UK film festival to host all of its official selections on the Apple TV app.[100]

The service received several nominations for the 2021 Golden Globe Awards in both the television and film categories and was regarded as having "established an impressive track record for turning out consistently good — and sometimes great — programming for subscribers, despite offering a much, much smaller overall offering."[101]

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