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Apple TV Plus reaches a billion screens, Apple says (which we already knew)

The stat doesn't compare (ahem) apples-to-apples with competitors' figures, but Apple dropped the number again during the keynote of its WWDC virtual event anyway.

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Apple's TV app is coming to Vizio and Sony smart TVs this summer.

Sarah Tew/CNET
This story is part of WWDC 2021. All the latest coverage from Apple's annual developers conference.

Apple TV Plus reaches a billion devices, a figure the company was touting even before the service launched, but Apple nonetheless called it out Monday during the keynote of the company's Worldwide Developers Conference. Apple also said the its TV app, which is where Apple TV Plus exists as a service, would be coming to Vizio and Sony smart TVs this summer. 

Apple's figure literally just means that Apple's TV app is present on a billion devices -- but Apple already did the hard part by selling billions of iPhones, since the Apple TV app is automatically installed on iPhones running its iOS mobile operating system. More than 2 billion iPhones have been sold over the years, and Apple CEO Tim Cook said last year that 900 million of those iPhones were active. 

The TV app is also preinstalled on Apple TVs, and it's also available for Rokus and Amazon Fire TVs, widening its reach. 

The size of subscription-video services is typically gauged by number of subscribers. Netflix, for example, has more than 182 million subscribers. Disney Plus, which launched less than two weeks after Apple TV Plus did, ramped up to 54.5 million subscribers as of early May. Apple has never disclosed its own subscriber figures for Apple TV Plus, which usually indicates they don't hold up favorably against rivals' stats. 

Apple TV Plus was already available on Vizio and Sony smart TVs using its AirPlay feature. On Monday, Apple said those smart TVs would be getting the TV app this summer. 

Apple announced new versions of its iOS software for the iPhone and iPad at the conference, as well as MacOS software for its desktops and laptops and WatchOS software for its wrist-worn devices. The event, known as WWDC, typically draws thousands of programmers, fans and press to a San Jose, California, convention center, but the in-person event was canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, Apple is holding an entirely virtual event this week. 

Apple TV Plus is the gadget giant's subscription video streaming service featuring Apple's original TV shows and movies. With a reported budget of $6 billion to rope in some of Hollywood's biggest stars, Apple TV Plus was the first to the battle lines in the so-called streaming wars, a seven-month window when media giants and tech titans are releasing a raft of new streaming services to take on Netflix. These competitive battles -- pitting rookies like Apple TV Plus, HBO MaxDisney Plus and NBCUniversal's Peacock against heavyweights like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video -- have spurred huge corporations to pour billions of dollars into the hope of shaping the future of television. 

CNET's Ian Sherr contributed to this report. 

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