Apple TV+ is an over-the-top ad-free subscription video on demand web television service of Apple Inc. that debuted on November 1, 2019. It was announced during their March 25 Apple Special Event held at Steve Jobs Theater, where celebrities involved with Apple TV+ projects appeared on-stage for the announcement, including Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Jason Momoa.
|Launch date||November 1, 2019|
|Platform(s)||Apple TV app, tv.apple.com|
Apple TV+ content is viewable through Apple's website and through Apple's TV app, which in 2019 expanded its availability to numerous consumer electronics devices, including those of Apple's competitors, with further plans to expand availability to more devices over time. However, Apple has created no native app for the Windows and Android platforms, or an official method to stream the content on television-connected Android TV and Chromecast devices, leaving users of those devices to workarounds for viewing Apple TV+.
At debut, Apple TV+ was accessible in about 100 countries and dependent territories, fewer than the early reported target of a global launch in 150 countries, and not including a number of the highest population countries in the world, within some of which Apple sells other content generally. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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."
In June 2017, Apple began to take the first major steps in forming its new television unit by poaching the co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television, Jamie Elricht and Zack van Amburg, to oversee all aspects of worldwide video programming. Staff acquisition and financial investments rapidly followed as many additional people were brought onboard.
- In August 2017, Matt Cherniss was hired as Head of Domestic Creative Development.
- In October 2017, it was reported that Apple had hired Morgan Wandell, formerly Head of International Productions for Amazon, as Head of International Creative Development. Later that same month, Jay Hunt was tasked to be the European Creative Director of the Worldwide Video Unit.
- In December 2017, Michelle Lee was hired as a senior creative executive in the Worldwide Video Unit. The same month, Apple hired three more executives to join their Worldwide Video Unit: Tara Sorensen as Head of Children's Programming, Tara Pietri as Head of Legal Affairs, and Carina Walker as an International Development Executive.
- In January 2018, Dana Tuinier was given the role of Creative Executive in Charge of Comedy for the Worldwide Video Unit.
- In February 2018, Carol Trussell became Head of Production, Worldwide Video Unit.
- In March 2018, Angélica Guerra was hired as Head of Latin American programming for the Worldwide Video Unit.
- In July 2018, Apple hired Joe Oppenheimer as a creative executive on the international creative development team in the Worldwide Video Unit.
- In December 2018, Apple hired Sony Pictures's Head of Feature Casting Tamara Hunter as the Head of Casting for the Worldwide Video Unit.
- In April 2019, Apple hired Molly Thompson as Head of Documentaries for the Worldwide Video Unit.
Celebrity content partnerships and programming decisionsEdit
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.
In June 2018, Apple signed the Writer's Guild of America's minimum basic agreement and Oprah Winfrey to a multi-year content partnership. 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.
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." The Cummings series was ultimately put into development by Amazon Video in October 2018.
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. 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.
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. That same month, Apple signed a first look deal with Imagine Documentaries to develop non-fiction features and series. 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. 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. Furthermore, it was revealed that the crucifixes in the untitled M. Night Shyamalan series would remain.
In January 2020, Apple signed a five-year production deal with Richard Plepler, the former CEO and chairmen of HBO. Under the production deal, Plepler's production company Eden Productions will create television series, documentaries and feature films exclusively for Apple TV+. 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.
Technical details reportingEdit
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.
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. 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.
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 attending the event. Furthermore, Helpsters, the first series from Sesame Workshop (which also produces Sesame Street), was announced, and Oprah Winfrey announced her first projects for Apple TV+ including a documentary—under the working title Toxic Labor—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.
On September 10, 2019, Apple announced at their yearly keynote that Apple TV+ would launch on November 1, 2019, at $4.99 USD a 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 iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or Apple TV beginning that same day. 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.
Growth and impactEdit
On October 17, 2019, Irish telecommunications company eir confirmed it will be the first non-Apple related company to use the Apple TV 4K set-top boxes as its main source of supplying digital television content along with Apple content.
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. As of March 2019[update], five of the upcoming series had already completed production, with six more already well into filming.
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.
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.
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