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Apple TV+ launch – new streaming service now live

Apple’s long-awaited TV+ streaming service is now available around the world, offering a handful of high-budget original shows to dig into. But how can it stand out amidst the competition?

TV+ can be accessed from any device that runs Apple’s existing TV app – that includes iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac, iPod touch, and even select smart TVs from other manufacturers. Simply open the TV app and you’ll be greeted with an invitation to register for TV+. You can even log into to watch from any other device.

Subscriptions are charged at $5/£5 monthly after a 7-day free trial, but Apple has a few tricks up its sleeve to maximize its user base. Not only is it offering a free year of TV+ to anyone who buys (or has recently bought) a new Apple device, it also allows a single subscription to be shared with up to six people through Family Sharing at no extra cost. That means if you already picked up a new device recently, your whole household can watch Apple’s content until November 2020 without spending a dime. Apple is also offering a $10/£10 discount for subscriptions paid annually, and students get access free with an already-discounted Apple Music student subscription.

That means there are plenty of ways for Apple to get its hooks into you as it develops more content. After all, the streaming market is a crowded field, dominated by big players like Netflix and Amazon – not to mention the Disney and HBO services coming soon – and so it’s no surprise to see Apple leverage its existing user base to pump the numbers and get people excited about these shows.

Speaking of shows: there aren’t many of them. Unlike those other services, Apple will not offer a back catalog of any kind. Instead of licensing existing media from other studios, everything in TV+ is home-grown original content. That’s a great way to differentiate from the competition, and if Apple can nail a few must-watch shows then TV+ could become an essential subscription. Its decision to release most of these shows on a weekly schedule further confirms Apple’s desire to become a weekly talking point, and of course, it will stop users binging entire series during the trial period.

The flagship shows Apple is pushing the hardest include breakfast TV drama The Morning Show (starring Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carell), post-apocalyptic survival thriller See (starring Jason Momoa), and coming-of-age biopic Dickinson (starring Hailee Steinfeld). These join a new chat show from Oprah, new kids’ shows from Sesame Street and Snoopy, a ghost-hunting family adventure, an epic nature documentary on elephants, and a compelling alternate history sci-fi show. You can dig into all of these right away in the TV app.

The downside is that the catalog seems incredibly empty at this stage. At launch, Apple TV+ offers just the content listed above – that’s eight shows and one movie. Compare that to a Netflix catalog literally thousands strong and it looks distinctly underwhelming. But quality over quantity seems to be Apple’s approach here, with many shows boasting big names and even bigger budgets. It’s rumored to have spent $6bn on original content, much of which will be released over the next year as Apple tries to cement its place in Hollywood.

Shows from Steven Spielberg, J. J. Abrams, and M. Night Shyamalan – just to name a few – are on the horizon for TV+, and we’re excited to see how they fare. Early critical reviews are pretty mixed so far, but with most series not yet finished and plenty more to come it’s hard to say yet whether Apple has nailed its first big foray into this industry. To succeed, it’s going to need heavy-hitting shows that bring in new subscribers in the way Game of Thrones did for HBO or Stranger Things did for Netflix.

That’s the key, really – will any of Apple’s original programming be compelling enough to carry an entire service? We’re looking forward to finding out.