Apple unveils TV streaming service


  • Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell will star in a new Apple TV+ show
  • More than $US1 billion has reportedly been spent on original content
  • Apple’s shares fell 1.7 per cent on Monday following its announcements

Apple has unveiled its own TV streaming service and credit card as it seeks to become an entertainment and financial services giant that also makes iPhones, iPads and MacBooks.

The company also announced a gaming subscription service called Apple Arcade as well as a paid version of Apple News called Apple News+, which will give subscribers access to 300 magazines including National Geographic and the New Yorker for $US10 ($14) a month.

Apple is turning more of its attention to subscription services that provide regular revenue as it deals with saturated markets and falling sales of its iPhone.

Winfrey and Spielberg have both signed up for Apple TV+
Apple TV+ will stream original television shows and movies ad-free to users of its 1.4 billion devices worldwide, as well as owners of smart TVs.

More than $US1 billion has reportedly been spent on original TV shows and movies, including documentaries from Oprah Winfrey, as well as her book club; a show about TV morning talk shows starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell; and a sci-fi show called Amazing Stories from Steven Spielberg.

“I’m joining forces with Apple. They’re in a billion pockets, y’all,” Winfrey said at the event.

But while the company will be challenging Netflix and Amazon Prime, Apple is taking a different approach by also offering paid channels from HBO, Starz and Showtime alongside its own content.

Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston on a stage talking about Apple TV
PHOTO: Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston star in one of Apple’s new TV shows. (Reuters: Stephen Lam)
The revamped app for subscribing to other channels will come out in May, with Apple’s own content to arrive towards the end of the year.

Pricing for Apple TV+ hasn’t been announced, but Apple said the service would be available in more than 100 countries.

However, eMarketer analyst Paul Verna said Apple was “very late to this game”.

“Netflix has become the gold standard in how to create and distribute content, using all the data they have about their viewers,” he said.

Industry analyst Colin Gillis of Chatham Road Partners said Apple TV+ is “not going to be a Netflix killer”, while Martin Garner of CCS Insights said the service so far lacks “the full range and diversity of content available through Netflix, Amazon and others”.

Apple’s not the only media giant entering the market — both Walt Disney (which now owns 21st Century Fox) and AT&T (which owns Time Warner) plan to launch or test new streaming video services this year.

Apple Card is backed by Goldman Sachs and Mastercard
The new credit card service will live in the Wallet app on iPhone, though customers will also get a physical card made of titanium.

Apple says Apple Card can track spending across devices, won’t have any late or annual fees, and will offer 2 per cent cash back.

As well, Apple says the card will help customers keep better track of their spending (purchases are automatically organised into categories like food and entertainment) while protecting privacy (Apple says it’s put security in place so it won’t know where or what you purchased, and there’s no card number or signature on the physical card).

The company has so far only announced plans to launch the card in the US, but chief executive officer Tim Cook said Apple Pay would be available in more than 40 countries by the end of the year.

Jennifer Bailey, VP Apple Pay, speaks on stage at an Apple event.
PHOTO: Jennifer Bailey, Vice-President Apple Pay, talks about Apple Card. (Reuters: Stephen Lam)
We don’t know a whole lot about Apple Arcade
Apple says the service will work on phones, tablets and computers and include 100 exclusive games from partners including Annapurna Interactive, Cartoon Network, Konami and LEGO.

Only a handful of games have been confirmed, including Sonic Racing and LEGO Brawls. The games will be able to be downloaded and played offline.

“The App Store is the world’s biggest and most successful game platform. Now we are going to take games even further,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice-president of worldwide marketing.

Apple didn’t say how much the service, which will arrive later this year, would cost.

As for Apple News+, so far available only in the US and Canada, Apple says it won’t replace the existing free Apple News service that already exists.

“We’re committed to supporting quality journalism, and with Apple News+, we want to celebrate the great work being done by magazines and news outlets,” it said.

But while the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal are also on board along with hundreds of magazines, the Journal says it will be providing only some and not all of its content.

Investors have pinned their hopes for growth on Apple’s services segment — which already includes the App Store, Apple Music and iCloud — even though it accounts for only about 14 per cent of Apple’s overall $265.6 billion in revenue.

Revenue from Apple’s services segment grew 24 per cent to $37.1 billion in fiscal year 2018.

But Apple’s shares fell 1.7 per cent on Monday following its announcements.