Apple TV Plus to launch Nov. 1 for $5/month, with one year free if you buy a device
People who buy an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod Touch or Mac get one year of Apple TV Plus free. Current Apple device owners don't.
Joan E. SolsmanFormer Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Apple TV Plus, Apple's subscription service for exclusive original TV shows and movies, will launch Nov. 1 at a monthly rate of $4.99, and people who buy a new Apple gadget get a free subscription for a year. The details were revealed at Apple's flagship iPhone event Tuesday, where the company unveiled its iPhone 11 lineup.
Apple TV Plus will also offer a seven-day free trial for anyone else who wants to try it. The company also said "most" of its series will premiere with three episodes followed by one new episode weekly. While "full seasons of some series will be available all at once," it's unlikely that Apple's most anticipated shows will be available for most people to binge during a one-week trial period, at least not until later this year or in 2020 when entire seasons are complete.
Apple named nine total titles that would be available at launch on Apple TV Plus. "All of these incredible shows for the price of a single movie rental," Apple CEO Tim Cook said Tuesday on stage. "This is crazy."
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Apple TV Plus will have a download option for watching its originals offline. In addition, Apple TV Plus will be available to watch on some competitors' devices too. Apple's TV app -- where you'll stream Apple TV Plus programming -- is available on smart TVs from Samsung, and it's supposed to become available this year on Roku, Amazon's Fire TV devices and smart TVs from Sony, LG and Vizio.
But the Apple TV app isn't available on any mobile devices except iPhones or iPads. That means Apple TV Plus subscribers with non-Apple phones will have to stream to their mobiles via the web, rather than in an app.
Apple's $5-per-month price is about as much as it could reasonably charge. By comparison, Disney Plus, the highly anticipated streaming service from the entertainment giant, will launch Nov. 12 for $7 a month -- with a large library of hundreds of movies and thousands of TV episodes available immediately. Streaming services based on cable networks, like Showtime or HBO Now, usually range between $9 to $15 a month. Smaller, niche streaming services often are priced at about $5.
And Netflix, the world's biggest subscription streaming service, prices its most popular plan at $13 a month in the US; it offers other tiers at $9 and $16 monthly rates.
Free trials are the industry standard: Most streaming video services offer introductory free periods for new members. Apple's one-year free period for gadget owners is atypically long, but the seven-day standard free trial is on the short side, especially considering most series won't make all their episodes available at the same time.
The yearlong free subscription offer applies to both new and refurbished models, including devices from the iPhone Upgrade Program, and it's not restricted to any specific sales channel, so it applies to both Apple Store purchases and those at resellers. It will be available in all countries where Apple TV Plus launches.
In a press release, Apple specified nine titles that will be available at launch:
Apple said additional titles will be arriving in the months after launch, including:
Servant, a thriller from Sixth Sense director M. Night Shyamalan
An Octavia Spencer mystery drama called Truth Be Told
Little America, the brainchild of husband-and-wife screenwriting team Kumail Nanjiani (you may know him as Dinesh on HBO's Silicon Valley) and Emily V. Gordon
The Banker, a true-story film starring Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson
Hala, a movie produced by Jada Pinkett Smith that Apple picked up at Sundance
Apple is taking aim at original video with Apple TV Plus because it could be a crucial enticement for people to buy more iPhones and other gadgets. The iPhone has been Apple's cash cow for years, and it still accounts for half the company's sales. But those sales are slowing as people hedge away from buying new phones with eye-popping price tags every year. Partly in response to slowing iPhone sales, Apple has set a deadline to double its services revenue to $50 billion before 2021 -- and Apple TV Plus could be crucial to that goal.
Watch this: Tim Cook unveils Apple TV Plus with original shows
In March, Apple officially announced its concept for a Netflix-like subscription TV service at a star-studded event. But the company held back on the main details that potential subscribers needed to know about Apple TV Plus, like what day it would launch, what content would be available to stream and, crucially, how much it would cost.
The company previously had specified that Apple TV Plus won't have ads and will be available in more than 100 countries. It will also be part of Apple's family sharing feature, which allows you and up to five family members to be on the same plan. Apple TV Plus will also live inside the company's TV app. There, Apple TV Plus will sit next to other video subscriptions such as
or Starz. (But not Netflix.)
On Tuesday, the company said its originals will be subtitled or dubbed in nearly 40 languages, including closed captions, and Apple TV Plus series and movies will also be available with audio descriptions in eight languages.
Originally published Sept. 10, 10:19 a.m. PT. Updates, 11:33 a.m. and 2:39 p.m.: Adds details about titles at launch, downloads, one-year free subscription and more.
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