March 25, 2019 / 8:15 PM / 5 months ago

Apple TV+ joins crowded market for streaming options

(Reuters) - Apple Inc unveiled its Apple TV+ original content streaming service and Apple TV Channels subscription service on Monday without a price tag, making it difficult to evaluate how the new ventures will stack up to Netflix Inc and other competitors.

Director Steven Spielberg speaks during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, U.S., March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

The Apple TV+ service features original content from Hollywood heavyweights like Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams and M. Night Shyamalan and will launch this fall. It will be ad-free and available on Apple devices as well as other platforms such as Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

But Apple did not announce pricing or confirm whether the new service would be available on Android devices.

In addition to Apple TV+, in May Apple is launching Apple TV Channels, which will allow users to subscribe to individual streaming services.

Apple TV Channels include HBO, Showtime, Starz and others, and will live inside the company’s newly designed Apple TV app. Notably, Apple TV Channels excludes Netflix content.

Apple does not yet offer a discounted bundle of other companies’ streaming services. That would have given it an edge over Amazon.com Inc, which through its Prime Video Channels allows Prime members to subscribe to individual streaming services at full price.

Like Apple, Amazon is making a push into original programing as a way to sell other services. But Prime Video viewers also get the benefits of the fast Amazon order delivery and other perks that come with Prime membership, so may be unlikely to scrap that service for Apple.

And unlike Hulu and Netflix, Apple TV+ will not come stocked with a library of popular broadcast shows. Netflix is said to have paid $100 million to continue licensing the NBC hit series “Friends,” which is reportedly its second-most-watched show. Hulu, starting at $5.99 a month, streams classic series like “Seinfeld” as well as current shows.

Walt Disney Co is also jumping into the streaming war with Disney+, a streaming service armed with the entire library of Walt Disney Studios’ theatrical releases and Disney-branded television shows as well as new, exclusive content.

Dsney has also suggested it could bundle Disney+ with ESPN+ and Hulu, of which it owns a majority stake after its acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets.

Apple TV+ will be competing in the children’s programing space with new programing in partnership with the Sesame Street Workshop.

Reporting by Helen Coster

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