The 5 most important details we just learned about Apple's long-rumored push into TV

oprah winfrey apple event march 2019Michael Short/Getty ImagesCelebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and J.J. Abrams helped Apple unveil its new streaming TV service.Michael Short/Getty Images

  • Apple finally unveiled its long-rumored streaming TV service on Monday.
  • The service is actually two services, named Apple TV Plus and Apple TV Channels.
  • Apple didn't announce pricing for the services.

Apple's long-rumored, Netflix-like video streaming service was finally unveiled on Monday: it's called Apple TV Plus, and a cavalcade of top-level Hollywood talent is producing content for the new service.

Celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and J.J. Abrams were on hand alongside Apple CEO Tim Cook at Apple's Cupertino, California, headquarters to announce new projects for the platform.

But that's not all! Apple also announced a new service named Apple TV Channels, which offers a la carte access to a handful of different TV channels - both Channels and Plus are part of a major update coming to the Apple TV app. If it sounds like a lot, that's because it is.

Here's everything we know about Apple's new TV streaming service:

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1. Apple TV Plus is similar to Netflix, Hulu, and other paid streaming services ... sort of.

1. Apple TV Plus is similar to Netflix, Hulu, and other paid streaming services ... sort of.

Let's start with the most straightforward part of Apple's plan: TV Plus.

This is the service where Apple's new shows will debut and live. It's most directly comparable to Netflix or HBO Go — a monthly subscription service that comes with original content, sans advertisements.

Unlike Netflix and HBO Go, Apple TV Plus has no licensed content. It's a place exclusively for shows and movies that Apple itself produces (we'll get to those in a moment).

Apple didn't give a price for the service just yet, but it did offer a few more details: It'll be ad-free, available in over 100 countries, and it's scheduled to arrive at some point this fall.

2. Apple's other push into TV is a new service named Apple TV Channels.

2. Apple's other push into TV is a new service named Apple TV Channels.

Whether you pay for Apple TV Plus or not, the Apple TV app is getting a major update to add a new section: Channels.

In Channels, you can build a sort of a la carte TV package by picking from a handful of different TV channels and digital services. Maybe you only want Starz, Cinemax, and ESPN? You could conceivably pay for only those channels through Apple TV Channels.

It's not clear how much each channel will cost, or if getting them through Apple will represent a savings over subscribing directly.

What Apple is offering is standardization. No matter which channels you pay for, Apple says you'll get access to their libraries, "on demand, available on and offline, with incredible picture quality and sound."

Additionally, you can plug in services like PlayStation Vue, and even a traditional cable subscription from the likes of Spectrum, Optimum, and more.

3. The Apple TV app is coming to a mess of new devices, from the Mac to competitors like Roku and Samsung.

3. The Apple TV app is coming to a mess of new devices, from the Mac to competitors like Roku and Samsung.

The Apple TV app is something you can already have if you're an iPhone or iPad user, but Apple intends its TV service to extend far beyond its own hardware.

To that end, Apple is putting the Apple TV app on Samsung smart TVs starting this spring, and it's scheduled to arrive on Amazon's Fire TV, LG TVs, Roku-powered TVs, Sony TVs, and Vizio TVs "in the future."

That's a major move for Apple, and an open concession to the much larger world of TV owners who don't have Apple's set-top box, the Apple TV.

Of course, if you're an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV owner, you'll simply receive an update this May that will add Apple TV Channels. TV Plus isn't expected to arrive until some point in the fall, also as part of the Apple TV app.

Another first: Apple is bringing its Apple TV app to Macs in the fall. There doesn't appear to be a way to access Apple TV Plus or Apple TV Channels from a web browser.

4. Apple is creating a bunch of shows for Apple TV Plus, and it's working with a bunch of very famous people to make those shows.

4. Apple is creating a bunch of shows for Apple TV Plus, and it's working with a bunch of very famous people to make those shows.

Apple really splashed out on TV Plus talent. Everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Steven Spielberg showed up at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, to announce their new TV Plus projects.

Here are a few:

  • Steven Spielberg announced a reboot of his classic TV series "Amazing Stories"
  • Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carell announced a new drama named "The Morning Show"
  • Alfre Woodard and Jason Momoa announced a sci-fi drama called "See"
  • Kumail Nanjiani announced an anthology series about immigrants living in the US called "Little America."

Oprah Winfrey appeared as Apple's surprise last-minute announcement. She announced two new documentaries: one focused on "the toll of sexual harassment, assault and violation in the workplace," and a second, multi-part series "focused on mental health."

Here's a look at the shows that were announced for Apple TV Plus:

5. Pricing and availability for Apple TV Plus is coming later this year. Pricing for Apple TV Channels remains unknown, but it arrives as an update in May.

5. Pricing and availability for Apple TV Plus is coming later this year. Pricing for Apple TV Channels remains unknown, but it arrives as an update in May.

We don't know when exactly Apple TV Plus is going to launch, but Apple says it will reveal those details at some point this fall.

Considering that competing services, from Netflix to Hulu to HBO Go, all offer monthly subscriptions in the $8 to $15 range, we'd expect a similar pricing structure from Apple Plus.

Pricing for individual channels on Apple TV Channels — which arrives in an update to the Apple TV app in May — remains unknown. It's likely that channels like Showtime and HBO, which offer their own digital subscription services, will cost the same or close to what they cost outside of Apple's new Channels service.

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