Apple Teases New Original Programming, Expanded Apple News Offering

But there are still no details on how much it will cost to watch its new shows this fall

Oprah Winfrey, who spoke at Apple's press event today, will revive her famed book club with Apple. Getty Images

Apple is moving into the content business with new services announced at a press event today at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.

The tech company will offer users a new Apple TV app to aggregate top streaming channels in one place, a slate of original programming and an expanded Apple News offering to add more than 300 magazines to the service for a monthly fee. However, Apple did not answer the most pressing question going into today’s event: how much it will cost for audiences to watch its new shows, which will start airing this fall.

Here’s a rundown of the details the company did unveil at today’s event.

Apple News+

New subscription service Apple News+ will offer over 300 magazines to readers for $9.99.

In addition to entertainment, news and sports magazines, the service will include content from The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times. WSJ will make general news—though not all of its content—available on the platform in a partnership the publisher hopes will drive scale. It will continue partnering with Apple on “video, voice, market data and AI,” publisher William Lewis told staff in a memo.

Apple’s announcement isn’t entirely unexpected after last March, when the tech company acquired magazine service Texture, offering readers unlimited access to a roster of more than 200 magazine titles for a monthly subscription fee. The titles from many of Texture’s co-owners—including Condé Nast, Hearst and Meredith—will also participate in Apple’s new service.

But other publishers, like The New York Times and The Washington Post, have declined to participate in an alleged disagreement over the terms, which reportedly included a 50-50 revenue share with Apple.

The service is available today in the United States and in Canada, and the first month is free. The plan is also available for family sharing at no additional cost. The service will also extend to Europe starting with the U.K. and in Australia later this year.

“We believe in the power of journalism and the impact it can have on our lives. We think Apple News+ is going to be great for customers and great for publishers.”
-Tim Cook, CEO, Apple

“We believe in the power of journalism and the impact it can have on our lives,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “We think Apple News+ is going to be great for customers and great for publishers.”

Cook also said advertisers won’t be able to track users of Apple News+.

The offering will also include subscriptions to digital news organizations, including theSkimm, Grub Street and The Cut. In total, Apple estimated that each subscription, unbundled, would cost $8,000 per year.

Original programming via Apple TV+

Apple also used a plus in the title of its upcoming original video subscription service, Apple TV+, which will be available in more than 100 countries this fall. But the company did not reveal pricing for the new OTT offering.

The event included appearances from the big names involved with the Apple shows, including Steven Spielberg (who is producing a reboot of his 1980s anthology NBC series, Amazing Stories),  Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell (starring in The Morning Show, an insider look at early morning TV news shows), and Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard (teasing a new show, See).

Clips from some of these shows were shown at the event today, and Sara Bareilles performed the theme song to her upcoming J.J. Abrams show about a struggling music writer.

“Apple has always tried to make the world a better place, and we believe deeply in the power of creativity,” Cook said. “We feel we can contribute something important to our culture and society through great storytelling.”

“We have this unique opportunity to rise to our best selves in how we use and choose to use both our technology and our humanity.”
-Oprah Winfrey on why she's working with Apple

Oprah Winfrey also appeared onstage. She partnered with Apple on a documentary on the toll of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace—tentatively called Toxic Labor—and an unnamed multi-part series on mental health. Winfrey will also revive her famed book club with Apple.

“We have this unique opportunity to rise to our best selves in how we use and choose to use both our technology and our humanity,” Winfrey said on why she was working with the tech giant.

Already flooded with big players like Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, Showtime, Amazon and YouTube Premium, the OTT space is expected to be even more crowded this year by rumored and confirmed offerings from AT&T, Disney+, Viacom and Discovery. What sets Apple’s product apart, though, is its built-in reach among the 1.4 billion active devices the company reported it has throughout the world. By comparison, Netflix claimed to reach 139 million subscribers in January.

As Winfrey herself said, “They’re in a billion pockets, y’all … The whole world’s got them in their hands.”

"They're in a billion pockets, y'all … The whole world's got them in their hands."
-Winfrey on the 1.4 billion active Apple devices around the world

New Apple TV app

Apple also a new Apple TV app coming this May that’s intended to aggregate viewers’ favorite streaming options in one place. Watchers will be able to put channels like HBO, Hulu, Showtime and ESPN, as well as cable channels, on one dashboard so they can easily toggle between their programs.

“TV is more than entertainment. It’s cultural,” Cook said. “TV, at its best, enriches our lives, and we can share it with people that we love.”

The new app will let audiences pick up shows where they left off across devices, be alerted when their favorite sports team have a close game and purchase or rent movies. It will be available with a software update in May across Apple TVs in over 100 countries. Apple will add the app to Mac computers in the fall and to smart TVs, starting with Samsung, in the spring.

Apple also announced a new subscription gaming service for across Apple devices, available in the fall in over 150 countries and regions. (Pricing for the service was not announced.) Additionally, the company teased an upcoming no-fee credit card, coming to the iPhone’s Wallet app this summer.

Editor’s note: Adweek will participate in Apple’s expanded news offering for publishers.

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.
Publish date: March 25, 2019 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT