Apple's new Apple TV+ streaming service will hit New Zealand on November 1 for $8.99/month as part of its 100-country launch.
The new service will feature Apple-original programming such as The Morning Show, a "cutthroat drama" starring and executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, and with Steve Carell (click to see below.) and a show featuring talk-queen Oprah Winfrey.
All up, Apple is spending some US$6b on original programming - putting it in the same league as Netflix, HBO and other top streamers and broadcasters.
The service will be available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac and other platforms, including online at tv.apple.com, with a seven-day free trial. Some smart TVs will also get Apple TV+ support .
An aggressive promotion, starting today, sees anyone who buys an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch or Mac will get Apple TV+ for free for a year. Through Family Sharing, up to six family members can share one Apple TV+ subscription, the company says.
An increasingly crowded battlefield will see Disney_+ launch in NZ on November 19 for $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year. Disney+ will break Sky's longtime near-monopoly on Disney content in these parts. Disney says that, ultimately, Disney+ will be the exclusive home of its content.
Both Apple+ and Disney+ will go up against established giant Netflix, which recently bumped the monthly price of its one-screen Basic plan by 4 per cent to $11.99, its two-screens-at-once Standard plan by 13 per cent to $16.99 and its four-screen, 4K Premium plan by 19 per cent to $21.99. Outside of sport, Netflix has so far been the only streaming service to put money behind locally-produced original (backing David Farrier's global show Dark Tourist and the NZ-set and super-syrupy Falling Inn Love).
Sky recently slashed the price of its no-contract streaming service Neon to $13.95 a month - making it more competive with Netflix.
Neon draws heavily on Sky's NZ-exclusive contract with HBO, and features binge-worthy classic series like Game of Thrones, Big Little Lies and Chernobyl, plus movies like First Man and Bohemian Rhapsody.
Neon previously cost $20 a month for its full-blooded version, including TV and movies - although there was also $12/month version that only offered TV series. That option has now been axed, meaning some users will pay more. There is now only one plan - the $13.95 a month offer that includes all content.
The Spark-owned Lightbox lets you stream all the TV shows you like on a $12.99/month (two screens) or $15.99/month (four screens) plan. Movies cost between $4.99 and $6.99.
Amazon Prime, which charges Kiwis in US dollars, costs US$2.99 ($4.30) a month for your first six months then US$5.99 ($7.20).
Netflix is still the king in terms of having the most content, and being the only service that offers a 4K or Ultra High Definition option (on its $21.99/month four-screen plan).
In sports, the $20/month Spark Sport is offering Formula One, English Premier League football, NBA basketball and other sports as part of its regular stable, plus a $90 Tournament Pass to the pending Rugby World Cup.
And Sky TV's Fanpass has just been rebranded Sky Sport Now and been upgraded to include streaming versions of the broadcaster's expanded lineup of 12 Sky Sport channels, plus highlights and pay-per-view events. Sky Sport Now costs $19.99 for a no-contract week pass, $49.99 for a no-contract month pass, or $39.99 a month on a 12-month contract.
Apple TV originals
Debuting November 1:
• See: Epic drama starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard, is set 600 years in the future after a virus has decimated humankind and rendered the remaining population blind. When all humanity has lost the sense of sight, humans must adapt and find new ways to survive.
• The Morning Show: Cutthroat drama starring and executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, and starring Steve Carell, explores the world of morning news and the ego, ambition and the misguided search for power behind the people who help America wake up in the morning.
• Dickinson: Darkly comedic coming-of-age story, explores the constraints of society, gender and family through the lens of rebellious young poet, Emily Dickinson.
• For All Mankind: New series from Ronald D. Moore, imagines what would have happened if the global space race never ended and the space program remained the cultural centrepiece of America's hopes and dreams.
• Helpsters: new children's series from the makers of Sesame Street, stars Cody and a team of vibrant monsters who love to help solve problems. It all starts with a plan.
• Snoopy in Space: New original from Peanuts Worldwide and DHX Media, takes viewers on a journey with Snoopy as he follows his dreams to become an astronaut. Together, Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the Peanuts crew take command of the International Space Station and explore the moon and beyond.
• Ghostwriter: Reinvention of the beloved original series, follows four kids who are brought together by a mysterious ghost in a neighbourhood bookstore, and must team up to release fictional characters from works of literature.
• The Elephant Queen: Acclaimed documentary film and cinematic love letter to a species on the verge of extinction, follows a majestic matriarch elephant and her herd on an epic journey of life, loss and homecoming.
• Oprah Winfrey joins the world's most compelling authors in conversation as she builds a vibrant, global book club community and other projects to connect with people around the world and share meaningful ways to create positive change.
More Apple TV+ originals will be added to the Apple TV app each month, including:
• Servant: New psychological thriller from M. Night Shyamalan, follows a Philadelphia couple in mourning after an unspeakable tragedy creates a rift in their marriage and opens the door for a mysterious force to enter their home.
• Truth Be Told: Gripping new series starring Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer and Emmy Award winner Aaron Paul, explores America's obsession with true crime podcasts and navigates urgent concerns about privacy, media and race.
• Little America: Inspired by the true stories featured in Epic Magazine, brings to life the funny, romantic, heartfelt, inspiring and surprising stories of immigrants in America.
• The Banker: Feature film inspired by a true story, stars Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson as two African American entrepreneurs who try to circumvent the racial limitations of the 1950s and quietly provide housing loans to the African American community in Jim Crow Texas. Nia Long and Nicholas Hoult also star.
• Hala: Feature film and official selection of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, follows a high school senior struggling to balance being a suburban teenager with her traditional Muslim upbringing.
Pricing and availability
• Apple TV+ will be available on the Apple TV app for $8.99 inc per month with a seven-day free trial starting 1 November on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV 4K, Apple TV HD, Apple TV (3rd generation), iPod touch and Mac. To subscribe to Apple TV+, customers must update to iOS 12.3 or later, tvOS 12.3 or later and macOS Catalina. The subscription will automatically renew at NZ$8.99 inc. GST per month at the end of the seven-day free trial.
• Apple TV+ will also be available on the Apple TV app on select 2018, 2019 and newer Samsung smart TVs, and on Amazon Fire TV, LG, Roku and Sony platforms in the future.
• Customers can also subscribe to and watch Apple TV+ at tv.apple.com in Safari, Chrome and Firefox.
• Customers with AirPlay 2-enabled Samsung and LG smart TVs must update to iOS 12.3 or later or macOS Catalina to play or mirror Apple TV+ originals from the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Mac directly to their smart TVs. Customers with eligible Sony smart TVs will be able to enjoy AirPlay 2 support later this year.
• Customers who purchase any new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch starting 10 September can enjoy one year of Apple TV+ for free. Beginning 1 November, customers can initiate the one-year free offer in the Apple TV app on the device running the latest software.
• Customers have three months after device activation to claim the offer, or if the device was purchased and activated before the launch of Apple TV+, they will have three months starting 1 November.