Apple has final­ly explained what Apple TV Plus is all about (well, almost). With a report­ed bud­get of $6 bil­lion to rope in some of Hol­ly­wood’s biggest stars, Apple TV Plus will launch Nov. 1 for $5 a month. Peo­ple who buy a new Apple gad­get get to watch free for a year, while every­one else qual­i­fies for a sev­en-day free tri­al. Apple TV Plus was first announced at a star-stud­ded event in March, but the com­pa­ny stayed mum about the cru­cial details until its iPhone event in Sep­tem­ber.

Since then, Apple has been ramp­ing up its pro­mo­tion of the hand­ful of orig­i­nals it’ll fea­ture on Apple TV Plus. Most recent­ly, Apple released a trail­er for Truth Be Told, the mys­tery dra­ma star­ring Oscar win­ner Octavia Spencer and Emmy win­ner Aaron Paul. The lim­it­ed series fol­lows a true-crime pod­cast­er and jour­nal­ist, played by Spencer, as she rein­ves­ti­gates a mur­der and ques­tions if she helped put the wrong man, played by Paul, behind bars for it. It’ll pre­miere on the ser­vice Dec. 6. 

Apple TV Plus, the Net­flix-like sub­scrip­tion ser­vice fea­tur­ing Apple’s orig­i­nal TV shows and movies, will launch with nine con­firmed titles, includ­ing a dra­ma star­ring Reese With­er­spoon and Jen­nifer Anis­ton, a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic thriller star­ring Jason Momoa, a com­e­dy about poet Emi­ly Dick­in­son star­ring Hailee Ste­in­feld and a book-focused series with Oprah Win­frey called Oprah’s Book Club. 

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After launch, the nine pro­grams will be expand­ed by anoth­er five that Apple con­firmed it will add in the fol­low­ing months. Accord­ing to the com­pa­ny, “most” Apple TV Plus series will pre­miere with three episodes avail­able imme­di­ate­ly, fol­lowed by one new episode week­ly. Full sea­sons of “some” series will be avail­able all at once, Apple said.

The oth­er pro­grams avail­able on Apple TV Plus at launch are con­firmed to be: a Sesame Street spin­off called Help­sters; a kids pro­gram called Ghost­writer; ani­mat­ed series Snoopy in Space; and The Ele­phant Queen, a doc­u­men­tary movie that the com­pa­ny acquired at the Toron­to Film Fes­ti­val.

Apple CEO Tim Cook isn’t play­ing at mod­esty. In March, he her­ald­ed Apple TV Plus as “unlike any­thing that’s been done before.” Here’s every­thing we know.  

What’s Apple’s TV ser­vice like? 

Apple TV Plus will be sub­scrip­tion stream­ing ser­vice to watch the com­pa­ny’s orig­i­nal series and movies exclu­sive­ly. 

Like Net­flix, it won’t have ads. 

Unlike Net­flix, it won’t release full sea­sons of its shows all at once in a binge-able bunch. “Most” Apple TV Plus series will pre­miere three episodes fol­lowed by one new episode every week, Apple says; full sea­sons of “some” series will drop all at the same time, though. 

Apple TV Plus will also reside inside Apple’s TV app. There, Apple TV Plus will sit next to oth­er video sub­scrip­tions such as HBO or Starz. (But not the big­gie, Net­flix.) 

Apple TV Plus will be avail­able in more than 100 coun­tries and will also be part of Apple’s fam­i­ly shar­ing fea­ture, which allows you and up to five fam­i­ly mem­bers to share a plan. Apple orig­i­nals will be avail­able in 4K, HDR and Dol­by Vision, and most titles also offer Dol­by Atmos sound, accord­ing to this Apple sup­port page.

We still have a few big ques­tions. We don’t know if Apple’s ser­vice will also have a library of licensed shows and movies, though this is look­ing unlike­ly. And we haven’t heard any­thing about whether Apple will pack­age Apple TV Plus with oth­er sub­scrip­tions, such as Apple Arcade, Apple News Plus and Apple Music, into a dis­count­ed bun­dle a la Dis­ney Plus being pack­aged with Hulu and ESPN Plus.  

How much will it cost?

Apple TV Plus will cost $5 a month and offer a sev­en-day free tri­al. Peo­ple who buy a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod Touch or Mac start­ing Sept. 10 will qual­i­fy for a free sub­scrip­tion for one year. Cur­rent Apple device own­ers aren’t grand­fa­thered in. 

Apple TV Plus tal­ent gath­ers with CEO Tim Cook in the lob­by of the Steve Jobs The­ater.

Art Streiber/Apple

The free-year offer applies to both new and refur­bished mod­els, includ­ing devices from the iPhone Upgrade Pro­gram, and it’s not restrict­ed to any spe­cif­ic sales chan­nel, so it applies to both Apple Store pur­chas­es and those at resellers. It will be avail­able in all coun­tries where Apple TV Plus launch­es.

By com­par­i­son, Dis­ney Plus, the high­ly antic­i­pat­ed stream­ing ser­vice from the enter­tain­ment giant, will launch Nov. 12 for $7 a month — with a large library of movies and shows avail­able imme­di­ate­ly. Stream­ing ser­vices based on cable net­works, like Show­time or HBO Now, usu­al­ly range between $9 to $15 a month. Small­er, niche stream­ing ser­vices often are priced at about $5 or a cou­ple bucks. 

And Net­flix, the world’s biggest sub­scrip­tion stream­ing ser­vice, prices its most pop­u­lar plan at $13 a month in the US; it offers oth­er tiers at $9 and $16 a month.

Free tri­als are the indus­try stan­dard: Most stream­ing video ser­vices offer intro­duc­to­ry free peri­ods for new mem­bers. But Apple’s one-year free peri­od for gad­get own­ers is atyp­i­cal­ly long. But the tac­tic worked well for Apple Music — Apple launched its music ser­vice with an extend­ed, six-month free tri­al, and Apple Music quick­ly became the world’s sec­ond most pop­u­lar music ser­vice by sub­scribers behind Spo­ti­fy. 

When will it launch?

Apple TV Plus will launch Nov. 1 in more than 100 coun­tries and regions, the com­pa­ny said. 

The com­pa­ny said its orig­i­nals will be sub­ti­tled or dubbed in near­ly 40 lan­guages, includ­ing closed cap­tions for peo­ple who are hear­ing impaired, and Apple TV Plus series and movies will also be avail­able with audio descrip­tions in eight lan­guages.

What devices will be able to stream it?

Apple’s pro­gram­ming will be avail­able on all Apple devices with the new Apple TV app. 

In addi­tion, Apple TV Plus will pre­sum­ably be avail­able on some com­peti­tor’s devices. Apple’s TV app is avail­able on smart TVs from Sam­sung, and it’s sup­posed to become avail­able this year on Roku, Ama­zon’s Fire TV devices and smart TVs from Sony, LG and Vizio. Sub­scribers will also be able to watch Apple TV Plus on the web at

Reese With­er­spoon (left) and Jen­nifer Anis­ton revealed the name of their Apple TV Plus series, The Morn­ing Show, at Apple’s event in March. 

Clau­dia Cruz/CNET

But the Apple TV app isn’t avail­able on any mobile devices except iPhones or iPads. That means Apple TV Plus sub­scribers with non-Apple phones will need to stream to their mobiles via the web, rather than in an app. 

What shows and movies will it have?

Apple’s shows run the gamut of dra­ma, com­e­dy, doc­u­men­tary — even unde­fined deals with a sin­gle big star attached. It’s also spend­ing big to get top Hol­ly­wood names: Win­frey, Steven Spiel­berg and J.J. Abrams and oth­er heavy hit­ters are on board. CNET keeps a tal­ly of the more than 30 Apple shows known so far, and it has details on every pro­gram. 

At launch, Apple TV Plus is con­firmed to have nine titles: 

See, the post-apoc­a­lyp­tic thriller star­ring MomoaThe Morn­ing Show, the dra­ma about a morn­ing news broad­cast star­ring With­er­spoon, Anis­ton and Steve Carell Dick­in­son, the com­e­dy about poet Emi­ly Dick­in­son as a young woman star­ring Ste­in­feld­For All Mankind, an alter­na­tive retelling of the space raceO­prah’s Book Club fea­tur­ing Win­frey­Help­sters, a Sesame Street spin­off Ghost­writer, a kids pro­gram about four young­sters who team up with a ghost in a neigh­bor­hood book­store­An­i­mat­ed series Snoopy in SpaceThe Ele­phant Queen, a doc­u­men­tary film about a moth­er ele­phant

At a pre­view screen­ing of Dick­in­son in Sep­tem­ber, cre­ator Ale­na Smith described the show as a “crazy psy­che­del­ic” ver­sion of the 1850s, where Ste­in­feld plays the young poet curs­ing in con­tem­po­rary slang while wear­ing a corset, and rap­per Wiz Khal­i­fa shows up as a per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of death in the first episode. John Mulaney will appear lat­er as Hen­ry David Thore­au, one of Dick­in­son’s heroes who turns out to be a “total pho­ny,” accord­ing to Smith, and Zosia Mamet will guest star as Lit­tle Women writer Louisa May Alcott, who appar­ent­ly vis­its the Dick­in­sons for Christ­mas. 

Oprah’s series — with a new episode every two months — homes in on a book in each episode, includ­ing an inter­view its author. Lead­ing up to the show, Apple will pro­mote that title in its Apple Books store. Apple said it will make a a con­tri­bu­tion to the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion for every pur­chase of an Oprah’s Book Club title in its store. The first episode, which will be avail­able on Apple TV Plus at launch Nov. 1, will focus on The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. 

After launch, Apple said five addi­tion­al titles would be added in fol­low­ing months: 

Ser­vant, a thriller from M. Night Shya­malan, who direct­ed Sixth Sense, pre­mier­ing Nov. 28Truth Be Told, the mys­tery dra­ma star­ring Spencer and Paul, pre­mier­ing Dec. 6Little Amer­i­ca, from the hus­band-and-wife screen­writ­ing team of Kumail Nan­jiani (you may know him as Dinesh on HBO’s Sil­i­con Val­ley) and Emi­ly V. Gor­don­The Banker, a true-sto­ry movie star­ring Antho­ny Mack­ie and Samuel L. Jack­son­Hala, a movie pro­duced by Jada Pin­kett Smith that Apple picked up at Sun­dance

Shya­malan revealed details about his thriller Ser­vant at a New York Com­ic Con pan­el in ear­ly Octo­ber, say­ing he envi­sions the show as a 60-episode arc. (Apple has­n’t con­firmed whether it’s made that scale of com­mit­ment to Ser­vant.) The show, which delves into mys­ter­ies sur­round­ing the death of a baby, will pre­miere Nov. 28 for a 10-episode sea­son, with each episode run­ning about 30 min­utes. 

But the release plans for oth­er Apple orig­i­nals remain unclear. We still don’t know when we’ll be see­ing shows like: Myth­ic Quest, a com­e­dy from Rob McEl­hen­ney and Char­lie Day, who cre­at­ed and starred in It’s Always Sun­ny in Philadel­phia; Amaz­ing Sto­ries, an anthol­o­gy series from Steven Spiel­berg; and Cen­tral Park, a car­toon musi­cal from the cre­ator of Bob’s Burg­ers and packed with the voic­es of stars like Frozen’s Josh Gad and Kris­ten Bell and Hamil­ton’s Leslie Odom Jr. and Dav­eed Dig­gs.

We also don’t know much about how Apple will con­tin­ue to accrue films. Apple has a part­ner­ship with film stu­dio A24 — known for such movies as Ex Machi­na, Moon­light and Room. The part­ner­ship will include a film called On the Rocks star­ring Bill Mur­ray and Rashi­da Jones and direct­ed by Sofia Cop­po­la. At the Toron­to Film Fes­ti­val last year, Apple also bought the rights to Wolfwalk­ers, an ani­mat­ed movie from Car­toon Saloon and Melu­sine Pro­duc­tions. 

But a report in Sep­tem­ber said Apple may give the­ater runs to some of its films before stream­ing them on Apple TV Plus. 

Now play­ing: Watch this: Apple teas­es its orig­i­nal shows in new trail­er 1:36

Apple has come under ear­ly scruti­ny because of reports it’s restrict­ing its cre­ators from mak­ing edgy con­tent and aim­ing to keep all its pro­gram­ming fam­i­ly friend­ly. Fam­i­ly friend­ly pro­gram­ming isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly a bar to suc­cess — Dis­ney built one of the reign­ing media empires on it — but edgy shows have led oth­er stream­ing ser­vices to awards recog­ni­tion that helps dri­ve inter­est. Apple’s strat­e­gy could crimp it com­pet­i­tive­ly on that front.

But that won’t stop Apple from try­ing to score awards, appar­ent­ly. The com­pa­ny is hir­ing strate­gists to help craft cam­paigns for awards like the Oscars and Emmys, accord­ing to a report. 

Who will Apple com­pete against for your dol­lars? 

Apple’s forth­com­ing ser­vice would launch at a time when seem­ing­ly every major media prop­er­ty is putting out its own stream­ing option, from DC Uni­verse’s com­ic-fla­vored fare to a planned Dis­ney offer­ing, not to men­tion stal­warts like Net­flix. Mean­while, NBCU­ni­ver­sal and HBO-own­er Warn­er­Me­dia are both build­ing their own stream­ing ser­vices.

Clear­ly, an Apple ser­vice with $6 bil­lion worth of pre­mi­um video will com­pete with the likes of Net­flix, Ama­zon Prime, Hulu and oth­ers that stream on-demand, high-qual­i­ty pro­duc­tions. 

Should Apple expand to bundling oth­er dig­i­tal net­works, then Ama­zon Chan­nels will be its key rival. Apple would also go up against wire­less com­pa­nies such as AT&T’s VRV, a co-op of niche genre stream­ing ser­vices. 

A chan­nel-bundling mod­el would even bring Apple in com­pe­ti­tion with tra­di­tion­al cable. 

What’s inter­est­ing is that Apple’s dive into orig­i­nal pro­gram­ming comes as oth­er giants are ramp­ing up their own stream­ing-ser­vice ambi­tions. 

Dis­ney will launch a $7‑a-month Net­flix-like ser­vice Nov. 12. Called Dis­ney Plus, the dig­i­tal ser­vice will be a home base for stream­ing all of Dis­ney’s block­buster movies, mul­ti­ple Star Wars and Mar­vel orig­i­nal series and oth­er pro­gram­ming. Com­pared with Apple’s nine titles at launch, Dis­ney Plus will have at least 300 movies to stream plus thou­sands of TV episodes. 

Apple is a gad­get giant. Why does it want to become Net­flix? 

Haven’t you heard? Every­body wants to be the Net­flix of some­thing. (Pod­casts! Fit­ness! Clothes! Games! Even demand man­age­ment.)

Apple is tak­ing aim at orig­i­nal video because it could be a cru­cial entice­ment for peo­ple to buy more iPhones and oth­er gad­gets. You can’t over­state the impor­tance of the iPhone to Apple. The phone, one of the most pop­u­lar in the world, still accounts for more than half its sales and was crit­i­cal to Apple’s march to become the first US com­pa­ny worth $1 tril­lion. 

Celebri­ties show off their new series on Apple TV Plus 26 Pho­tos

But Apple is on a dead­line to dou­ble its ser­vices rev­enue to $50 bil­lion before 2021. 

Apple quick­ly estab­lished its bona fides in sub­scrip­tions busi­ness­es with Apple Music. But the con­tent on Apple Music is essen­tial­ly the same as every oth­er music ser­vice. They all have tens of mil­lions of songs. Apple Music has been suc­cess­ful large­ly because of its pres­ence on the iPhone, already in the pock­ets of mil­lions of peo­ple. It has­n’t been near­ly as suc­cess­ful work­ing the oth­er direc­tion, act­ing as a lure to buy the lat­est Apple gad­get.  

Orig­i­nal video from big-name stars and cre­ators you can’t watch any­where else, how­ev­er, could be dif­fer­ent. 

Apple clear­ly has a hunch it will be.

Orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished Sept. 8, 2018, and updat­ed as new infor­ma­tion is revealed.

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