Apple Announces TV Streaming Service

Apple announced its new TV streaming service on Monday at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, creating an a la carte way to choose what channels you subscribe to.

apple-tv-plus-getty-Michael Short : Stringer
(Photo: Michael Short / Stringer, Getty)

The streaming service, called Apple TV Channels, includes traditional channels like CBS and Comedy Central, sports and news networks, premium networks like HBO and Showtime, as well as online streaming series like Brit Box and Acorn TV.

A second service, called Apple TV+, includes original content created by Apple and its partners, designed to rival streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon.

The company said that in addition to giving you a streamlined, single spot to watch all of that content, Apple TV Channels also allows you to download shows and movies to your devices to watch offline.

Television consumers should think of Apple TV Channels as an alternative to streamers like Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV, which offer cable TV channels in specific bundles for cheaper prices than cable companies. Apple's a la carte alternative allows consumers to theoretically save even more money by only subscribing to customized channels.

“For some of us, the big bundle is more than we need, so we designed a new TV experience where you can pay for only the channels you want all in one app,” Apple’s Peter Stern said during Apple’s press conference. “Watch everything on-demand and ad-free.”

"This is how TV should work," he said.

Apple TV Channels and the new Apple TV app will launch through a software update in May. It will be available in more than 100 countries.

The Apple TV app is already available on iPad, iPhone and Apple TV, but the company will also bring it to Macs later this fall. It will also launch on Vizio, Sony, LG and Samsung smart TVs, as well as Roku and Amazon FireTV boxes.

"Our vision for Apple TV app is to bring together your favorite shows, movies, sports and news and make them available on all of your devices," Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, said.

A new home screen inside the updated Apple TV app displays the TV shows you're watching and can also recommend new ones personalized to your taste.

The approach isn't necessarily groundbreaking; Apple TV already lets people connect their cable provider into the Apple TV app, and, using single sign-on, automatically log in to apps that support streaming if you also pay for cable.

With the announcement of Apple TV+ came a parade of celebrities onstage at the Steve Jobs Theater, including Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carrell and Big Bird.

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Spielberg took the stage to talk up the new streaming platform, announcing his anthology show Amazing Stories, which will air on the service.

Witherspoon and Aniston introduced their new show, The Morning Show, before being joined by co-star Steve Carell.