The streaming wars are getting heated: Apple TV+, Apple’s foray into the video subscription service market, launched on November 1 in the UK (and around the world).
Here’s everything you need to know about Apple TV Plus’ shows, pricing – and how you can even get it for free.
Table of Contents
What Is Apple TV Plus?
Apple TV+ is Apple’s answer to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and the upcoming Disney+. It’s a streaming VOD service, that lets you watch original content from Apple – movies, documentaries and TV programmes.
According to The Financial Times, Apple is spending $6 Billion on content, and as with most streaming subscription services, you won’t see any adverts while you’re watching.
The streaming quality is up to 4K HDR, with Dolby Atmos sound, and you will be able to download shows to your device, for offline viewing.
How Much Does Apple TV Plus Cost?
Apple TV+ launched with a competitive price point – £4.99/a month ($4.99 in the US), or £50/year (though you can also get it for free – more on that in a second).
When compared to the rest of the UK streaming services, the price is tempting: Netflix UK’s standard plan costs £8.99/month, Amazon Prime Video is £5.99/month (or as part of Amazon Prime), NOW TV is £8.99/month for the Entertainment Pass, and the new BritBox UK is £5.99/month.
So on the surface, Apple TV Plus is cheaper than all the other major streaming services. However, what you get is very different, so this is not an Apples to Apples comparison (pun intended).
How Can I Get Apple TV Plus For Free?
Apple knows the streaming market is very competitive these days – so to sweeten the deal, they’re offering Apple TV+ for free… for some. First, you’ll need to sign up with your Apple ID.
Then, you have these options:
1. A Free 7-Days Trial: Everyone can get Apple TV+ for 7 days without paying. Be careful, though – after the trial is up, the subscription will renew automatically at £4.99/a month, so don’t forget to cancel if you don’t want it anymore.
2. Watch Two Episodes For Free: Even without the free trial, you can watch the first two episodes from each of Apple’s new original shows, for free. You will still need to sign up with your Apple ID, and you can’t watch them on the web – you have to use a supported Apple TV+ device, such as an iPhone or an Amazon Fire TV.
3. A Free Year With An Apple Device: If you buy a new Apple device (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV or a Mac), or if you bought one after September 10, 2019, you’re entitled to one free year of Apple TV+. If you buy another device later on – you will get another year from that point on (unless they cancel that deal at some point).
Note that when you buy a new Apple device, you only have three months to “activate” the free year – so don’t forget about it. And with “Family Sharing”, you can share the subscription with up to six other relatives.
To see the free year offer, you might need to update your Apple TV app. Once you open it, you’ll see a notice that says “Enjoy 1 Year Free” – so follow the instructions on that.
Once your free year is done, you will be automatically moved to the monthly plan, and will be billed £4.99/a month. You can cancel before that happens, but be warned: once you cancel the free year, you can’t reinstate it. So if you cancel now, you will lose the free year.
Therefore, annoyingly, you need to set a reminder on your calendar to cancel (assuming you want to cancel), a few days before the year is up.
4. Free With Apple Music’s Student Plan: If you subscribe to the Student Plan of Apple Music (at £4.99/month), you now also get Apple TV Plus as a free bonus.
Where Can I Watch Apple TV Plus?
Apple TV Plus is a streaming service, so you will need a broadband connection (or mobile data) to watch it. Currently, you can stream it on the following devices:
- iPhone / iPad (And can Airplay to a TV)
- Apple TV
- Windows PC (Via Chrome/Safari/Firefox)
- Amazon Fire TV (Currently only on the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and the older Fire TV Sticks – the older boxes/cube are not supported yet)
- Roku Devices (Like the 4K Streaming Stick+)
- Samsung TVs (Only certain models)
You can see the full list of supported devices here.
What Can I Watch On Apple TV Plus?
Unlike most other streaming services, Apple TV Plus is starting with a clean slate – there’s no library of older programmes from other production companies, and instead, you only get Apple Originals.
This, unfortunately, means Apple TV+ launched with… 7 TV shows and one documentary.
Not only that, but you don’t even get to binge-watch all the episodes – instead of dropping all the episodes at once, Apple only released the first 3 or 4 episodes from each show, and the next episodes will be added weekly.
Compare that with Netflix UK’s 1,500+ TV shows and 3,700+ movies, and Apple TV+ is at a major disadvantage. Even BritBox UK, which I criticised for not having enough titles at launch – has 230+ TV titles.
Remember, however, that these are early days, and Apple is spending billions of dollars on content. So, hopefully, things will improve.
As of this writing, you can watch the following content on Apple TV Plus:
- The Morning Show: A much-hyped drama series (some would say – soap opera…) about an American morning TV show, starring Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell and Reese Witherspoon. It currently has a 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
- For All Mankind: An alternative-reality drama series from Ron D. Moore, the man behind Outlander and Battlestar Galactica. It depicts a world where the space race between the US and the USSR never ended, following the lives of NASA astronauts. Rotten Tomatoes rating: 74%.
- See: Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones, Aquaman) stars in a show about a world where humanity has lost its ability to see… until twins are born with this mythical ability. Rotten Tomatoes rating: 39%.
- Dickinson: A coming-of-age story that explores society, gender and family through the lens of a rebellious young poet, Emily Dickinson. Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 72%.
- Helpsters: A new children’s TV series from the makers of Sesame Street. No Rotten Tomatoes rating yet.
- Snoopy in Space: A new original series that takes viewers on a journey with the lovable Snoopy, as he follows his dreams to become an astronaut. No Rotten Tomatoes rating yet.
- Ghostwriter: A reboot of the original kids’ series from the ’90s, it follows four kids who are brought together by a mysterious ghost in a neighbourhood bookstore. No Rotten Tomatoes rating yet.
- Oprah’s Book Club: Oprah Winfrey joins the world’s most compelling authors in conversation as she builds a vibrant, global book club community. No Rotten Tomatoes rating yet.
- The Elephant Queen: A documentary film that follows a majestic matriarch elephant and her herd on an epic journey of life, loss and homecoming. Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90%.
More shows and films will be added every month, as well as new episodes for each of the existing shows.
Is Apple TV Plus Worth It?
With only seven TV programmes at launch, it’s hard to justify paying for Apple TV+, even if it’s just £4.99/a month.
Of course, if you manage to get it for free with an Apple device, there’s no reason not to give the new shows a try.
But even if you only use the Free Trial – if you wait a few weeks until more episodes are released, and then you watch the free first episodes, you might be able to binge-watch everything Apple TV+ has to offer during your 7 free days.
For the time being, it looks like Apple is mostly gunning for their existing hardware clients – as it’s hard to imagine many people would pay for such a small library of content.
However, with more shows and films being added every month – it’s too early to bet against Apple on this…