Apple's long-awaited TV service launches — here's everything you need to know about it

Key Points
  • Apple's long-awaited streaming video service goes live early Friday morning.
  • Apple TV+ costs $4.99 per month, but anyone who buys an Apple gadget after Sept. 10 will get a free year of access.
  • It's a critical launch for the company as it begins to compete in content versus Netflix, Disney and other media companies.
Apple's video streaming service goes live – here's what you need to know

Apple's long-awaited streaming video service went live early on Friday morning.

Apple TV+ is a $4.99-per-month service featuring original TV shows and movies bankrolled by Apple. The service is launching in over 100 countries and regions, according to Apple.

It can be accessed through the pre-installed TV app on Apple's devices, including the iPhone and iPad, as well as through apps for various smart TVs and set-top boxes made by companies like Roku, Samsung and Amazon. Apple is also streaming its shows on its website for people using Safari, Firefox or Chrome browsers.

The launch of Apple TV+ is a critical moment for Apple as it strives to sell content and services to its 900 million iPhone users, instead of just selling them computer hardware and software.

In a sign of how important the Apple TV+ launch is for the company, it held one of its famous launch events this spring centered around the service — and no hardware or gadgets were launched. Apple has also reportedly spent billions on content for the service, including signing up celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston to act in and produce original shows.

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Apple TV+ is entering a crowded market. Disney's Disney+ service launches later this month, offering content from brand-name franchises such as Marvel and "Star Wars" for $6.99 per month. CNBC parent NBCUniversal and AT&T's WarnerMedia are planning to launch services early next year. Netflix currently has over 151 million subscribers.

Apple is using distribution to its large footprint of active devices to compete against companies with more media experience and content.

Apple TV+ will be free for a year with purchase of iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV streaming box or Mac computer. Those gadgets have to be purchased after Sept. 10, 2019, and if users cancel, they lose access to the service, according to the terms and conditions.

Shows available on the service now include "The Morning Show," "See," "Dickinson" and "For All Mankind." It also includes a few shows for kids, including "Helpsters," "Ghostwriter" and "Snoopy in Space." Oprah Winfrey is also hosting a talk show called "Oprah's Book Club."

Additional movies, documentaries and shows will be added later. Unlike Netflix, Apple won't release full seasons of its shows all at once. But there are exceptions. "See," for example, launched Friday with the first three episodes available right away.

Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.

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