Apple unveils streaming TV services

  • Apple announced new streaming services on Monday including Apple TV Channels and Apple TV+.
  • Apple TV Channels includes content from HBO, Showtime, Starz, Epix and more.
  • Apple TV+ is a new streaming TV service that will feature original content created by Apple.

Apple announced two streaming TV services during a press conference at the Steve Jobs theater in Cupertino on Monday.

The first is called Apple TV Channels and will offer a bundle of content from popular services such as HBO and Showtime and make it easy to access those alongside existing content you might already have through a cable TV subscription.

There's also a second service called Apple TV+ which includes original content created by Apple and its partners. Apple TV+ will launch this fall, but Apple did not say how much it will cost.

The new Apple TV services put Apple in direct competition of other established player like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon. Disney, AT&T and NBCUniversal all plan to release their own streaming services either this year or early next year.

The focus of Apple TV+ will be original programming made by and starring big-name actors, producers and directors including JJ Abrams, Steven Spielberg, and Jennifer Aniston. But so far, it seems like Apple TV+'s selection will be far more limited than what you can find in Netflix or another service.

Here's the breakdown of Apple's new TV services.

Apple TV Channels

Apple TV Channels includes Epix, HBO, Showtime, Starz and others. Users will need to subscribe to each channel, but Apple did not say how much it will cost for each service or if it will offer a package that includes all of them at a discount.

"For some of us, the big bundle is more than we need, so we designed a new TV experience where you can pay for only the channels you want all in one app," Apple's Peter Stern said during Apple's press conference. "Watch everything on-demand and ad-free."

Some of this isn't new: Apple TV already lets people connect their cable provider into the Apple TV app and, using single sign-on, automatically login to apps that support streaming if you also pay for cable.

A new home screen inside a new Apple TV app will serve as a launchpad for finding TV shows and movies to watch, and it will make recommendations it thinks you'll like. The Apple TV app is already available on iPad, iPhone and Apple TV, but the company will also bring it to Macs this spring. It will also launch on Vizio, Sony, LG and Samsung smart TVs, as well as Roku and Amazon Fire TV boxes.

Apple TV Channels and the new Apple TV app will launch through a software update in May. It will be available in more than 100 countries.

Apple TV+

Apple TV+
Source: Apple
Apple TV+

Apple also announced Apple TV+, an ad-free subscription streaming service that will be home to its library of original content. This is the service that puts it head-to-head with similar offerings from Amazon and Netflix.

Steven Spielberg talks about Apple TV+ at the Apple Spring Event on March 25th, 2019.
Source: Apple
Steven Spielberg talks about Apple TV+ at the Apple Spring Event on March 25th, 2019.

Here's a sample of some of the content coming in Apple TV+:

  • Steven Spielberg said he will reboot the TV series "Amazing Stories" for Apple TV+.
  • Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell announced a new TV series called "The Morning Show."
  • Kumail Nanjiani will release an anthology series inspired by immigrants in the U.S. titled "Little America."

J.J. Abrams, Oprah Winfrey, Octavia Spencer, Jason Momoa, M. Night Shyamalan, Jon M. Chu and others will also create original content for Apple TV+.

Oprah Winfrey speaking at the Apple Spring Event on March 25th, 2019.
Source: Apple
Oprah Winfrey speaking at the Apple Spring Event on March 25th, 2019.

All of the Apple TV+ original content will be available inside the Apple TV app, which means you'll be able to watch it on iPhones, iPads, Macs and even some of the other devices that are getting the Apple TV app later this year. It will launch in 100+ countries this fall. Apple didn't announce pricing for Apple TV+.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast, is the parent company of CNBC.