The Anatomy of Apple’s Streaming Shows

  • Leah Zitter
  • November 5, 2019

First, we had Apple TV that was simply a digital media player. Today, we’re getting a product that’s far more ambitious – Apple TV Plus. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, recently announced Apple’s first Netflix-like video streaming service. Here’s what you can expect:

  1. A Roster of Celebrities

In line with its reputation for heavy spending for top-notch excellence, Apple splashed more than $6 billion into the venture. Its lineup of Hollywood celebrities includes Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, J.J. Abrams – and Big Bird.

Expect shows that include the following

  • Dickinson, a biographical show on poet Emily Dickinson, headed by Hailee Steinfeld.
  • See, a post-apocalyptic thriller starring Jason Momoa and directed by The Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence.
  • Little America, an anthology of immigrant stories by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon.
  • Amazing Stories, the reboot of a five Emmy awards show by Steven Spielberg. 
  •  For All Mankind, a sci-fi drama about the space race starring Joel Kinnaman and co-created by Ronald D. Moore.
  • Oprah’s famous Book Club with her first interview with “The Water Dancer” author Ta-Nehisi Coates.
  • A Distinctive Genre of Shows

The shows themselves are mainly family-oriented. Think of Snoopy in Space, an animated series from Peanuts Worldwide; Helpsters, a Sesame Street spinoff played by none other than Big Bird; and Central Park, an animated musical comedy from Loren Bouchard, creator of Bob’s Burgers.

Apple Inc. has famously vetoed nudity, raw language, and violence, in line with its brand and marketing. Streaming categories range from Nature to Popular Culture to Geography or Biography. So, for instance, you have The Morning Show of a #MeToo scandal, starring Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carell; The Elephant Queen, a nature documentary; and Home, a docuseries that explores extraordinary homes in the world.

What’s further likely to attract viewers is Apple’s remarkable array of cult and sci-fi programming. Big guns here include the reboot of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories sci-fi anthology; an adaptation of Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits; and an ambitious project based on Isaac Asimov’s hard science fiction mythos, Foundation.

  • Cheap!

With Amazon Prime priced at $12.99 a month and Netflix costing $8.99 a month, analysts bet Appel would mediate the spectrum. As usual, Apple startled them with a cost that undercut its competitors and makes some analysts wonder whether Netflix could compete to retain its kingship. The price for the subscription is $4.99 a month, with the first week of service offered for free. Plus there’s the incentive of earning an entire’ year’s free subscription if you buy a new Apple device, such as an iPhone or Mac.

  • You Can Access Apple TV + From Any TV Device

While Apple tends to be proprietary about its services (there’s still no Spotify for Apple TV for instance), Apple TV Plus will be an updated TV app accessible to a wide range of smart TVs and streaming boxes. These include Roku, Amazon’s Fire TV, Samsung, LG, Sony, or the smart TV of your choice. You can also watch Apple’s selection at its Apple TV Plus website, tv.apple.com. On the other hand, if you stream from your phone, you can only use Apple mobile devices.

  • Pick and Choose Your Channels

This advanced Apple TV app allows you to sign up with over 150 streaming apps and television channels through a separate Apple TV Channels feature. Apple’s partners include Showtime, Amazon Prime, Hulu, TNT, HBO, CBS All Access, Starz, Nickelodeon, Mubi, and more. Netflix opted out viewing Apple as a threat. It’s really a pick and choose feature where you pay for the channels you want to watch and you access those channels and services through the Apple TV Plus app.

  • Plus… 

The latest version of the Apple TV app gives you exclusive content, uninterrupted with ads. The platform is available in 100 countries. 

Apple TV +: The Future

Here’s what to expect::

  • The updated Apple TV app and its roster of channels will become available on iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs starting May. 
  • Mac users will have to wait until the fall to get the app on their desktops or laptops.
  • Apple will partner with streaming services SuddenLink and Altice later this year
  • The Apple TV app will be available on Samsung TVs beginning this spring, as well as on Amazon Fire TV, LG, Roku, Sony and VIZIO platforms at an unspecified later date.
  • There are more famous shows in the offing. These include one by Steven Spielberg called Masters of the Air, on US fighter pilots of World War II. Oprah is also working on two upcoming documentaries; one on sexual harassment (called Toxic Labor), and the second on mental health in collaboration with Prince Harry.

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About Leah Zitter

Dr. Leah Zitter has a Ph.D. in Psychology Research with a focus on Behavioral Neuroscience and over a decade of experience as an analyst, covering emerging technology, innovation, and media. She trained as an investigative journalist at the Center for Near East Policy Research, is a researcher at heart and enjoys exploring technology’s impact on culture and society.