Apple’s video streaming service isn’t quite a competitor to Netflix – not yet, anyway. But its content is unparalleled. Here’s everything you need to know about Apple TV+.
Apple’s streaming video subscription service is called Apple TV+. Apple first launched the service in November 2019 and since then its shows have become some of the most critically acclaimed streaming series in recent years.
However, Apple’s video streaming service isn’t quite what many people think. By that I mean it’s not exactly a competitor to Netflix or Hulu. In fact, its content strategy is quite different from either of those services. Confused? Let’s go further to clarify things.
Apple TV+: what is Apple’s video streaming service?
What makes Apple TV+ different from other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu is that subscribers to the service can only access Apple’s original content, plus a few additional movies and other content each month. You see, while other streaming services offer a backlog of third-party content from various media companies, Apple pretty much limits Apple TV+ to its own produced content.
Apple doesn’t actually license third-party content for the Apple TV+ service. Well… mostly.
You see, in recent years, Apple has started licensing some pre-existing third-party content. For example, if there is a new Apple TV+ series or movie starring a particular actor, Apple TV+ may offer the option to stream some of their previous movies from other studios for a limited time – usually around a month . But for the most part, the main difference between Apple TV+ and other streaming platforms is that Apple TV+ doesn’t offer a large library of existing third-party content.
Perhaps Apple feels it doesn’t need to compete in the third-party catalog streaming business since all other streaming services offer the same generic content. It seems Apple wants its service to focus on its original content.
Apple TV+: what original content does it have?
Since 2023, Apple TV+ offers a ton of original content. Apple TV+ has seen massive successes like Ted Lasso, For all humanity, Servant, Severity, Silo, and more. And most of his shows that were not mega commercial successes were praised by critics for the quality of their content.
Apple also works with some of the biggest names in Hollywood to produce or star in its original Apple TV+ content. These big names include Jennifer Aniston, Ryan Reynolds, Glenn Close, Tom Hanks, Sofia Coppola, The Russo Brothers, Michael J Fox, Seth Rogan, Chris Evans, Octavia Spencer, John Stewart and many more.
Apple TV+ also includes Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer games for an additional fee.
Apple TV+: What do I hear about content, including channels like HBO?
In 2019, during the Apple TV+ launch event, Apple announced that in addition to launching its own original content, Apple TV users will be able to subscribe to premium TV channels from the Apple app TV. These channels include HBO, Starz, SHOWTIME, CBS All Access, Smithsonian Channel, EPIX, Tastemade, Noggin and more.
Subscriptions to these channels cost from $8 per month. However, these channels are not actually part of the Apple TV+ service. Rather, these are additional streaming services that you can add to your Apple TV+ bill.
Apple TV+: yes, the name is a bit confusing
As great as the original content is on Apple TV+, many people are confused by the “Apple TV” branding. Indeed, Apple offers many products in its ecosystem that use the “Apple TV” name in one way or another. So to clarify things, here’s what these “Apple TV” products refer to:
- Apple TV+: this is the streaming service owned by Apple, which this article is about.
- Apple TV: this is the hardware box that Apple sells. The product is called Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K. These are streaming decoders. Yes, they can be used to watch Apple TV+, but they can also be used for all your other streaming service apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, etc. You don’t need Apple TV HD or Apple TV 4K hardware to watch Apple TV+. Apple TV+ is offered as an app on everything from gaming consoles to smart TVs.
- TV app: and to make things even more confusing, Apple calls its digital video content app for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Windows the “TV” app. Yes, you can use the TV app to watch Apple TV+, but it also hosts videos you’ve purchased through the iTunes Store.
Apple TV+: how much does it cost?
Apple TV+ is much cheaper than other streaming services. But then again, it also offers less content than other streaming services. Apple TV+ costs $6.99 per month in 2023. It is also included in various Apple One plans.
Apple expert and novelist Michael Grothaus has been covering technology on KnowYourMobile for nearly 10 years. Before that, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer for other publications, including VICE and Fast Company.