New AppleTV+ Streamer Unveiled By CEO Tim Cook, Spielberg & Oprah

By Dominic Patten, Anthony D'Alessandro

Apple TV Plus
Apple Events

UPDATED with more details & video: Apple’s new streaming service is coming in this fall with an update to the company’s already existing TV app, the tech giant announced today with one of the greatest filmmakers of all time and one of the biggest TV icons ever both on-stage.

In a wide ranging announcement on many media fronts, Apple Boss Tim Cook took the stage today just after 10 AM the company HQ’s Steve Jobs Theater and unveiled all the juicy details about the tech shop’s new Apple TV+ streaming service and immediately available news platform.

“We love TV, TV is more than entertainment, it’s cultural,” Cook asserted in his new role as a small screen mogul with the clearly family friendly service. Speaking of friendly, the tech boss also took a swipe at Netflix and Amazon by promising the updated Apple TV app will be arranged in such a way so that you spend less time searching and more time watching.

It was a full tilt presentation in front of many faithful though noticeably light in the TV realm for hard numbers. For instance, there wasn’t any word of how much Apple TV+ would cost amidst all the other pronouncements of aims, hopes and dreams. Additionally, there was no actual launch date revealed, just the latter part of this year.

“A new service dedicated to the best stories ever told,” the company’s TV chiefs Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht said to the audience of the upcoming Apple TV+ service. Then, to show the sheer star power Apple is loading up, there was a Steven Spielberg opened video that followed.

The black and white sizzle reel (see above) played with a number of the content creator involved in AppleTV+ from Spielberg and J.J. Abrams, to Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and Sofia Coppola. The slick video displayed the various creators detailed the joy of the small-screen and big-screen process. “Everyone deserves to have their story told,” Witherspoon said to the camera.

That was just a tease, as the Jaws director juiced the event over an hour in with a very well received appearance on-stage to his upcoming Amazing Stories series that is set to debut on Apple TV+ later this year. Going for the marquee names, Spielberg was immediately followed by a series of TV icons and big screen heroes. First up was Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston and later Steve Carell to plug their The Morning Show series. Next it was Aquaman Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard discussing Steven Knight’s See series of a future where the world is bind.

Oddly, while there were plenty of beautiful images on display on the screen at the Jobs Theater, no trailers or clips of the new shows were shown when the talent was on stage but a “first look” sizzle reel was played later in the presentation.

Oprah Apple

Then there was the first and only standing ovation of the day as a spotlighted Oprah Winfrey appeared in the Jobs.

Citing a “unique opportunity” and healing, the OWN boss said that she joined “this new platform” in order to serve this moment, “illuminate consciousness” and bring “positive change.”

To that, Winfrey put a brief spotlight on her two upcoming documentaries coming to Apple TV+ and a revamped version of her successful Book Club. “I want to convene a meeting of the mind connecting us through books,” Winfrey proclaimed with interviews with authors and more intended live on the service.

Promising you’ll only pay for what you watch and on and offline, the newly minted Apple TV Channels is “how TV should work” said Apple Services VP Peter Stern to the audience on the newly “redesigned” TV app. “You should just watch the good stuff,” added Stern with Amazon Prime, Hulu, Starz, HBO, Showtime, CBS All Access, BBC America, Epix, live sports, blockbuster movies and more available, with “no more bouncing from app to app.”

The current app is available on a free trial as of today. Also getting right in the face of Netflix and Amazon, Apple is bring its app this fall to smart televisions like those manufactured by Samsung and more.

With the app on devices over the last few years, the video heavy presentation of Apple’s new subscription streaming service and AppleNews+ was full of Hollywood insiders, media bigwigs and top-tier talent.

In that vein, hitting the stage at 10:01 AM PT, the often low-key Apple CEO followed a rousing animated video that ended with “And now our feature presentation” like an old fashion movie house show. Stressing the success of “seamless integration” on Apple products, Cook emphasized ease of use to the first of many rounds of great applause from the 1,000 strong packed venue.

The big boss also wasn’t reluctant to take a swng at a rival.

In talking about Apples apps and services, Cook said that “they’re designed to keep your personal information private and secure,” a ding at Facebook’s recent woes which triggered a roar from the crowd in the Jobs.

Apple Television Headquarters

The “It’s Showtime” event in Cupertino, CA, the Van Amburg and Erlicht-led entertainment effort already counts roughly $1 billion in ordered original content either ready to roll or in the pipeline with programming. That content is coming from the A-list likes of Oscar winner Spielberg, Winfrey, Crazy Rich Asians helmer Jon Chu, Witherspoon, Aniston. There’s programming promised from Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, NBA star Kevin Durant, Outlander chief Ronald D. Moore, M. Night Shyamalan, J.J. Abrams, 24 EP Howard Gordon, the re-teaming of Oscar winner Sofia Coppola with Bill Murray and Captain America Chris Evans. Also Kumail Nanjiani was there with his upcoming series Little America, Big Bird with a newly announced kids show, and the always energetic Momoa.

Launching against the established Netflix, Amazon and Hulu and ahead of the upcoming Disney+ plus efforts from WarnerMedia and Comcast and others down the line, Apple does have the tremendous advantage of having immediate access via its three-year-old TV app to the more than 1.4 billion device that consumers around the globe already own.

In the room at the Steve Jobs Theater today were a number of Tinseltown corner office holders including Starz COO Jeffrey Hirsch and show biz heavyweight attorney Ken Ziffren who reps a number of content creators with Apple deals.

Also sighted in the House of Jobs remaking of the small screen were filmmaker Mark Duplass, Jean Schulz widow of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, and Billy Crudup who stars in the Witherspoon-Aniston Apple series. The owner of the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Tribune, billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong was in the Theater too. Those outlets will be part of the Apple news service that was dropped here today at the Bay Area confab.

With all that and details keep very close to Apple’s chest before the 10 AM unveiling started, Cook couldn’t resist a bit of a tease on social media:

However, beyond the lighthearted tweet, finessed graphics, product pitches and uplifting words by Spielberg and Oprah, there was another angle to Monday’s Apple TV+ announcement that you may have missed if you weren’t in the pews of the Steve Jobs Theater.

For one thing, coming on an overcast and chilly Northern Cali morning, the much hyped Apple invite only event had all the precision of a military event or a high school musical, off and on-stage. While perhaps an appropriate stance for a product launch like that latest iteration of the iPhone, it veered very close to the wrong note for what soon emerged on-stage as a celebration of creativity.

Or as one VIP said afterwards, “why did I fly up here, just to sit here and say nothing?”

Greeted repeatedly by smiling Silicon Valley staffers, the assembled media and luminaries were, from the moment they stepped foot on Apple’s Cupertino HQ, tightly weaved through the premises. Asked to arrive almost 90 minutes before the 10 AM PT event commenced, there was a lot of hanging around and lurching forward.

Funneled from security check points to a pastries and coffee fueled holding area and then in one tightly packed in hoard down into the Jobs Theater just before the event’s scheduled start.

That sudden crunch down the unblemished white stairs to the perfect acoustically designed venue saw a number of TV talking heads scurrying down from their nearby riser and camera position to grab a seat.

Inside the Jobs, there was a clear segregation with VIPs like For All Mankind EP Moore, studio and TV execs up the front. With green shirted polite but firm Apple employees literally forming a red rope obstacle to keep the media riff-raff in the upper half of the Theater, seating soon became a rarity for journos.

This being Apple, the event was so tightly and overly scripted that there were no opportunities for questions of Cook, Oprah and others from the audience. And when it was all over, staff were unrelenting in getting all non VIPs out of the Theater and going so far to form a human wall to stop people going back in.

In part, that might have been because of an informal soiree for the talent and executives that took place not long after the presentation concluded. Certainly out the side of the Jobs Theater, a fleet of muscular Escalades soon filled up with Spielberg, Witherspoon and other making their exit. Even usually chatty types like Oprah barely lingered.

The former daytime talk Queen at least spoke on-stage, others like Moore were seen but not heard in an event that was ultimately not enough show nor tell.

In addition to the news today about Apple TV’s programming lineup at the rah-rah rally of sorts, Cook and his top lieutenants provided extensive details on the new news service that Apple has in the works, and what titans of journalism will be on board. And who will not – the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post has made it clear in recent weeks that the paper will not be joining the service as the competition faces the Apple onslaught.

A battle that is already in the making.

“Apple News is the number #1 news app,” Cook proclaimed today to clearly converted crowd. Cribbing a title from the House of Mouse’s already announced streaming service, the CEO also revealed that the $9.99 a month expanded journalism service will be call AppleNews+. Featuring broadsheets galore such as the LA Times and the Wall Street Journal, the curated and interactive News+ will also have more than 300 magazines and digital outlets like The New Yorker, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, and Rolling Stone, which is owned by Deadline parent company PMC.

Oh, with the service an update away for Apple customers, the first month is free to kick things off.

Put it this way, The Daily seems a very long time ago.

Plugging further into the growing gaming industry, Apple Arcade was “brand new games that redefine games.”

In more Apple news not related to Hollywood and the media, the company divulged it’s not insignificant attempt to remake the credit card industry with AppleCard, a partnership Goldman Sachs and Mastercard.

Or as Cook closed out today’s presentation, “What a fun morning.”

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