Will Apple’s new TV streaming service be available in Singapore and the rest of Asia?
Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the brand new Apple TV+, along with a host of new subscription services. CNA Lifestyle was in California to find out more.
Apple unveiled a bevy of new subscription services with the help of Hollywood heavyweights Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston at the Steve Jobs Theatre in Cupertino, California on Monday morning (Mar 25).
The new line-up of products includes Apple TV+ (a streaming service with Apple's own star-studded original content); Apple News+ (news subscription service); Apple Arcade (a gaming subscription service) and the Apple Card (a credit card).
WHAT'S IN IT FOR US?
But will these services actually be available in Singapore and the rest of Asia?
According to CEO Tim Cook, new streaming platform Apple TV+ which offers exclusive original shows, movies and documentaries, will be available in more than 100 countries after its official US debut in “autumn 2019”. For those living in non-temperate countries, that translates to September through to November.
As for exactly which countries are part of the 100, CNA Lifestyle understands that there is no official confirmation that Singapore or any other Asian country is on the list as of press time.
Pricing was also not announced, and is scheduled to be revealed later this year.
Director Steven Spielberg, TV host Oprah Winfrey and Hollywood stars Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carrell and Jason Momoa all made appearances at the event that brought the Steve Jobs Theatre audience to its feet.
It was also the perfect platform for Cook to announce the company’s new Apple TV app and Apple TV channels, which will be available on the iPhone and iPad, and to Apple TV customers with a free software update this May.
Users will be able to watch new Apple TV channels – paying for only the services they want, all on demand. It will also be available both on and offline within the new, customised Apple TV app.
The app will offer suggestions for shows and movies from over 150 streaming apps, including Amazon Prime and Hulu, as well as pay TV services such as Canal+, Charter Spectrum, DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue. Optimum and Suddenlink from Altice will be added later this year.
According to Apple, these Apple TV channels include popular TV services such as HBO, Starz, SHOWTIME, CBS All Access, Smithsonian Channel, EPIX, Tastemade, Noggin, as well as new services like MTV Hits, with “more to be added over time around the world”. And it can all be shared via Family Sharing.
Later this year, customers with eligible VIZIO, Samsung, LG and Sony smart TVs will be able to play videos and other content from their iPhone or iPad directly to their smart TVs with AirPlay 2 support.
IS APPLE TV+ LIKE NETFLIX?
The line-up of star-studded original programming on Apple TV+ is declaration that Apple is charging out of the gate strong. But Cook made it very clear that Apple TV+ isn't Netflix – at least not yet.
The service will offer high-profile original content like Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston’s The Morning show; an Emily Dickinson half-hour series starring Hailee Steinfeld; an adaptation of the book Defending Jacob starring and executive produced by Captain America himself Chris Evans, and a based-on-a-true story CIA drama starring Captain Marvel’s Brie Larson.
It was also clear that Apple TV + did not forget about the kids with Big Bird making a surprise cameo to introduce the new show Helpsters, starring a new muppet called Cody.
The show is the product of Apple teaming up with Sesame Workshop (the non-profit media organisation behind the famed Sesame Street children's show) and will focus on teaching coding skills to preschoolers.
But Apple TV+ will not offer licensed content; syndicated shows like The Big Bang Theory, Mr Robot or Seinfeld, which are available on Netflix. For now, users will still have to buy those shows through iTunes or via terrestrial cable app in Apple TV channels.
"We believe deeply in the power of creativity," said Cook on stage. "Great stories can change the world. We feel we can contribute something important to our culture and to our society through great storytelling."
Perhaps Winfrey summed things up perfectly. “They’re in a billion pockets, folks,” said the media mogul. “The whole world’s got them in its hand, and that represents a major opportunity.”
Winfrey has two documentaries in the works – Toxic Labour which looks at the effects of sexual harassment in the workplace and another untitled, multi-part documentary about mental health. She also announced a brand new format for her famous book club where she will be streaming her conversations with the authors.
"We all want to be heard, but we also need to listen ... to be able to harness our hopes and dreams and heal our divisions," she said.
"That is why I have joined forces with Apple. The Apple platform allows me to do what I do, in whole new way."