After years of speculation and on-again, off-again rumors, Apple has finally unveiled its biggest push into streaming video: Apple TV Plus. CEO Tim Cook just announced the service — featuring Apple’s original programming — alongside a redesigned, more advanced Apple TV app at the Steve Jobs Theater. “As you can tell, today is going to be a very different kind of event,” Cook said to kick things off. The introduction of Apple TV Plus was led by a video featuring Hollywood director Steven Spielberg and stars attached to the shows that will help shape Apple’s service.
“We designed a new TV experience where you can pay for only the channels you want, all in one app, with the password you already have,” said Apple’s Peter Stern. “Watch everything on demand and ad-free. Download your shows to take with you anywhere. Enjoy the highest quality picture and sound available,” he said. The Apple TV app has been entirely redesigned to keep all content in one place. “No more bouncing around from app to app,” Stern said. There are some exceptions to that, however: Netflix isn’t backing the new TV app and thus doesn’t offer this integration.
Apple is focused on making its Apple TV app the centerpiece of a consumer’s various video subscriptions. A redesigned software experience will make it easier for users to find the latest must-watch shows and other recommendations from the third-party video apps that Apple will offer. In January, Tim Cook said Apple had reached 1.4 billion active iOS devices; those screens (and the TV app that comes preinstalled on them) will be critical to the service’s success.
Today, Apple confirmed the TV app will be coming to the Mac soon, and the company has also announced an iTunes Movies and TV app for Samsung TVs, just one step to reach customers beyond its own devices. That same app will be coming to televisions from Sony, LG, Vizio, and others.
Serving as a hub for video subscriptions isn’t a new idea: Amazon started down this path with its add-on Prime Video Channels, which allow Prime members to stream programming from third parties like HBO, Showtime, Starz, CBS, and others by paying for each service separately through their Amazon billing account. Convenience is really the name of the game, and putting everything in one place is much simpler for people trying to track what they’re spending. Apple’s execution is a bit different since it doesn’t require a major service like Prime as a prerequisite before consumers can buy subscriptions. So the barrier of entry is lower.
Apple will be taking a cut of each subscription it sells, which will help further boost revenues for the company’s services division. That’s crucial as Apple looks for other reliable profit sources in a world of flat iPhone sales.
Developing. Check out our Apple “show time” event live blog for the latest updates!