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Apple’s ‘See’ director clears up rumors about show’s budget

 

Executive producer and director, Francis Lawrence, discusses the making of “See,” and clears the record on how much the series cost to produce.

Apple's 'See' director clears up rumors about show's budget

“See” takes place 600 years in the future, after a viral apocalypse had eradicated much of the world’s population. The humans who survived were rendered blind, reverting to a primitive, tribal-like culture.

Jason Momoa (“Aquaman”, “Conan the Barbarian”) plays series lead Baba Voss. Voss’ wife gives birth to twins, the first humans in six centuries who are born sighted. He must protect his children and tribe against a powerful queen who believes the children will herald in the destruction of their world.

As it turns out, a post-apocalyptic world takes a fair amount of planning. According to Lawrence, they had to think critically about all of the show’s intricacies.

“We had a think tank with blind consultants and an evolutionary biologist and a survivalist and all these different people come in to brainstorm ideas,” Lawrence said.

It had been reported that the show would cost $240 million for two seasons, or roughly $15 million per episode. In an interview with Business Insider, Lawrence said that while the series is expensive, the budget had gotten blown out of proportion.

“It’s an expensive show,” he said. “People have thrown around that it’s the most expensive show. I can guarantee you it’s not.”

In the interview, Lawrence goes on to talk about how it was important to the creators to incorporate blind and low-vision actors into the show. While the cast is primarily sighted, they plan on scouting additional actors for future seasons.

“See” launched at Apple TV+’s debut on November 1, along with titles like “The Morning Show,” and “Dickinson,” and many more to come shortly after launch.

Apple TV+ is priced at $4.99 a month, though if you buy new hardware, such as a new Apple TV, iPhone, or Mac, you’ll get a year for free. Additionally, even if you don’t own any Apple devices, you will be able to watch Apple TV+ from your favorite browser at tv.apple.com.

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New trailer for ‘Ghostwriter’ shows up on Apple TV+ YouTube channel

 

A new trailer showcases clips from the reimagined 1990’s PBS classic educational program “Ghostwriter,” now available to watch on Apple TV+.

Ghostwriter

When a ghost takes up residence in a local bookstore and releases fictional characters into the real world, a team of kids must band together to help put everyone back into their proper stories.

The trailer teases clips of the characters interacting with famous literary characters such as the White Rabbit from “Alice in Wonderland” and Mowgli from “The Jungle Book.”

The video’s description reads “Magic. Mystery. Mad Hatters. Just another average day in middle school.”

“Ghostwriter” is a reimagining of the early ’90s PBS classic. While the original series focused on the characters solving mysteries with the help of a ghost, the reimagining is a bit different.

The aim of “Ghostwriter” is to help bolster the reading skills of elementary school students. This time around, the characters will have to help rescue classic literary characters and get them back to their correct pieces of fiction. “Ghostwriter” is available to watch now on Apple TV+.

Apple TV+ launched today, with shows such as “See,” “The Morning Show,” and “Dickinson” heading up the first round of content released to the service.

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Interfaces more important to video streaming service users than content

 

A consumer research report claims that users of video services like Netflix are more likely to recommend it to others because of the user interface and overall ease of use, more than what programmes are available.

Tim Cook promotes Dickinson, one of the shows Apple TV+ is launching with in November

Tim Cook promotes Dickinson, one of the shows Apple TV+ is launching with in November

Research firm Parks Associates claims that the content of a streaming video service is less important than the user interface design and how easy it is to find something to watch. The report comes ahead of the launch of Apple TV+, which has the advantage of Apple‘s design and the disadvantage of a much smaller library of material than its rivals.

Parks Associates researcher Brandon Riney also told AppleInsider that despite its lack of content compared to Netflix and the forthcoming Disney+, Apple brings a distinct advantage to the market.

“Apple’s unexpected $4.99 pricing appears to be a response to Disney+’s $6.99 per month,” he said. “This, in combination with announcing a fuller slate of originals, addresses criticism from detractors that Apple TV+ did not have adequate content and value to compete.”

“Offering a complimentary year of service to buyers of an Apple product as a loss leader is a strategy consistent with Apple’s background as a device maker,” he continued. “This move provides a value-added feature for all of its hardware that other services cannot easily replicate.”

However, according to the report, 70% of US households who have a video subscription already rate their user interfaces as “good,” and 48% as “very good.”

Roku and Apple TV lead the streaming media player space in terms of ease-of-use,” says Parks Associates’ senior analyst Kristen Hanich, “while Fire TV is the undisputed leader in terms of voice control.”

Users in the report’s survey who said they had both a streaming video player and a smart TV, were asked which they preferred in regard to ease of use.

Of the households with an existing Apple TV, 38% said they preferred it to their smart TV, compared to 20% who expressed a preference for the other way around.

In comparison, 27% of Google Chromecast users preferred it to their TV, while 38% ranked their smart TV higher.

“Apple TV owners give relatively strong marks to the device’s UI,” says the report. “Chromecast owners rate [their] device relatively low in terms of ease of use and ease of finding something to watch. Tellingly, ease of use is relatively less important to those who purchased a Chromecast.”

Despite an overall preference for ease of use and searching, the report also says that users are now more focused on shows rather than having channel loyalty.

“Consumers are interested in finding particular shows or genres of content and have less interest in browsing by channel,” said Hanich.

Apple TV+ launches on November 1, and is followed on November 12 by Disney+.

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Twitch is coming to the Apple TV

 

Twitch, a live game streaming service, has released an Apple TV app public beta through TestFlight, giving users a chance to try out the service before it goes live.

Twitch opens public beta through TestFlight

While Twitch has had an iOS and desktop PC and Mac app for some time, this is marks the public debut of the app for Apple TV.

The app will boast the same features that the iOS and desktops apps do. Features include the ability to watch both live and prerecorded videos as well as the ability to participate in the on-screen chat.

Those who wish to take part in the Twitch public beta need to install and sign into Apple’s TestFlight app on either an iPhone or iPad. Following that, install TestFlight on the Apple TV.

After the apps have been installed on the iOS device and the Apple TV, tap the public TestFlight Twitch link on the iOS device. It will then populate the Apple TV TestfFlight and can be run from there.

Twitch encourages users to use the tvOS app the same way they would use the other apps. The company states on their beta page that “we don’t want to be too prescriptive so explore the app, watch streams, and try out different features. If you find a bug, the app crashes on you, or you encounter other issues send us your feedback.”

The Amazon-owned streaming service has been around since early 2011, giving players the chance to livestream video games. Content on Twitch ranges from simple video game playthroughs to competitive speed runs, eSports broadcasts, game development streams, and more.

Since then, Twitch has expanded greatly. In addition to video game themed content, Twitch now regularly features tabletop and card game streams, art and culture streams, music streams, and “hangouts,” in which viewers are encouraged to socialize with the broadcaster.

The jump to tvOS makes sense, as Twitch is now one of the largest video services on the internet. As of 2018, Twitch boasted over 2.2 million broadcasters, with 15 million daily active users, roughly half the amount of video-giant YouTube’s daily active users in 2017.

Twitch also has well over 27,000 partner channels, giving popular streamers the ability to earn a share of the advertising revenue Twitch generates on their streams.

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Apple TV+ predicted to hit 12M subscriptions in 2020, 21M by 2021

Apple TV+, the iPhone maker’s upcoming video streaming service, is likely to achieve 12 million subscriptions by the end of 2020, analysts at Cowen suggest, with Apple breaking even in its original content production efforts if it reaches 10 million users.

Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard present

Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard present “See” at an Apple special event in March.

The long-awaited video subscription offering is expected to arrive in November and is rumored to cost $9.99 per month. For that cost, subscribers will be able to watch a swathe of content produced for the service, including the news drama “The Morning Show,” the Jason Momoa vehicle “See” and a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories.”

To fund the productions, of which Apple has reportedly earmarked more than $6 billion in investments for the content catalog, Apple needs to secure a decent amount of subscribers in order to cover the costs.

According to a Cowen investor note seen by AppleInsider, analysts conservatively forecast total Apple TV+ subscribers of around 12 million for the full year of 2020, rising to 21 million by 2021. This is far below the figures of Netflix and Amazon, at over 150 million and 100 million respectively, but those are established services that have been around for years, while Apple is a newcomer to the field.

As additional context, Cowen notes Apple Music achieved a 10% penetration of approximately 3 million subscribers in its inaugural year, growing to 29% or 16 million in the second, and may reach 37% or 65 million by the end of 2019.

The rumored $9.99 price is in the same ballpark of Cowen’s estimates, which would be in line with Apple News+ as well as Amazon Prime Video’s $8.99 cost, while undercutting Netflix’s Standard and Premium offerings at $12.99 and $15.99, though higher than Hulu’s commercial-supported service at $5.99.

While there are “limited details” on pricing and content structure, Cowen assumes the figures based on Apple providing only intellectual property it owns or has rights no. While it could license content and second-run movies and shows in a similar manner to Netflix or Amazon, it is believed TV+ will be “relatively more focused on original source material due to higher margins and differentiating the service with curated content.”

Due to this assumption, it isn’t expected that the price of Apple TV+ will go above $20 per month, which would be more Apple entering the territory of a “multi-channel video programming distributor” if it did. “We believe if Apple were to include licensed content within the TV subscription itself, it could be from small scale providers that license at an attractive fee to Apple,” Cowen suggests, due to the 1.4 billion active devices that form Apple’s potential audience.

Based on having over 40 original TV, video series, movies, and other programs under development, Cowen estimates ten could air at launch, with more offered throughout 2020. The current slate of projects, including production and marketing costs, is thought to cost in the region of $2.8 billion.

As Netflix previously commented that over 90% of its streaming content is expected to be amortized within 4 years of its original release, a similar concept could apply to Apple. Using the $2.8 billion figure as an annual content cost run rate, the break even point is said to be a “high-single digit M subscriber level.”

For investors, Apple TV+ could help drive an incremental EPS rise of $0.20 to $0.25 for every 10 million additional subscribers on top of the conservative estimates. The baseline forecasts imply EPS contributions of $0.11 for 2020 and $0.32 for 2021.

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Apple TV+ to launch as for-pay subscription service, Cook suggests

 

Potentially ending months of speculation surrounding Apple’s planned pricing policy for Apple TV+, Apple CEO Tim Cook on Tuesday hinted that the upcoming original content service will be available on a subscription basis.

Oprah

Fielding questions on Apple’s recent push into services during an investor conference call, Cook likened Apple TV+ to an over-the-top product similar to those offered by major networks and content holders.

“The TV+ product plays in a market where there’s a huge move from the cable bundle to over-the-top,” Cook said. “We think that most users are going to get multiple over-the-top products and we’re going to do our best to convince them that the Apple TV+ product should be one of them.”

Unlike cable subscription schemes, over-the-top streaming services provide users a la carte access to TV and movie content. Typically, the offering is limited to an individual service, channel or group of channels owned by a content holder and is therefore cheaper than traditional cable tiers. Further, over-the-top systems are cost efficient in that viewers pay only for the content they want, rather than a bundle that includes channels that might go unwatched.

Apple unveiled Apple TV+ at a special event in March, but failed to disclose details on pricing.

As part of a “sneak peek” at programming set to debut on the service, Apple trotted out A-list Hollywood stars like Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell and Jason Momoa to present first looks at their forthcoming projects.

Rumors claimed the TV+ would be a free, value-added service available to Apple device owners through the new TV app, with Apple generating revenue on its investment via subscriptions sold to third-party services. Previous reports said the company at one point mulled a bundle that would integrate TV+ with Apple News+ and Apple Music.

Judging by Cook’s statements today, it appears Apple TV+ will instead be listed as a for-pay subscription solution, putting it in competition with the likes of Netflix and Hulu.

Apple TV+ is slated to launch this fall.

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Hulu will not be a part of Apple’s video streaming service, report says

 

Although Apple’s streaming video platform should offer an assortment of third-party services at launch, Hulu reportedly won’t be one of them.

Hulu's PEN15

Services that will “likely” be onboard include Starz, Showtime, CBS All Access, Noggin and HBO, CNBC sources said. The people didn’t say why Hulu would be excluded, but echoed previous reports saying that Netflix is also not participating.

Those two services are popular enough that they may feel they don’t need to sell through the new platform, due to be announced March 25. Netflix helped pioneer streaming video, and Hulu is a joint venture between Disney, Comcast/NBCUniversal and AT&T/WarnerMedia.

Apple is allegedly aiming to take 30 percent of the revenue for subscriptions enabled through its “TV” app. If so, the exposure may not be considered worth it. Video watched in Hulu appears in the TV app regardless.

Hulu also offers subscriptions to outside services on its own, and might not want to jeopardize that business.

Apple is preparing a barrage of original shows costing over $1 billion. At least some of these will likely be free to watch for Apple device owners — it’s not yet clear if the service will be accessible via Android or Windows.

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Apple’s ‘It’s show time’ video and Apple News event is on March 25 at Steve Jobs Theater

 

Apple has invited members of the press to an event at the Steve Jobs Theater on March 25, expected to include the unveiling of Apple’s news and video services.

The March 25 event will be held at the Steve Jobs Theater

The March 25 event will be held at the Steve Jobs Theater

The invitations for the March 25 event confirm long standing rumors of the date and also that the event will be held at the Steve Jobs Theater in Apple Park, Cupertino. While the invitation includes no more details than the time and venue, it does say that “it’s show time” and the animation included in the video has a distinct film leader countdown indicative of the Apple’s video service.

Apple previously used the “it’s showtime” —notably without the space between “show” and “time” —tagline in September 2006 when it debuted the Apple TV.

As ever, Apple has not announced anything that it plans to announce at the event, but it is expected to center on services rather than hardware. Specifically, Apple’s updating of its news offering into a subscription service is believed to be central to the event.

Similarly, the forthcoming streaming video service from Apple is at least expected to be revealed even if its actual launch may not be until later in the year.

Last year’s March event concentrated on education but did also include hardware releases, including an updated iPad.

Based on evidence from the supply chain, and usually reliable analysts such as Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is expected to release many new products across the whole of 2019. However, the only ones even occasionally being mentioned as possible for the March 25 event are more updated iPads the long-awaited AirPower charging pad, and the possibility of a new iPod touch.

AppleInsider will be at the March event where we expect Apple’s news and video services to dominate. Keep up with our coverage by downloading the AppleInsider app for iOS, and follow us on YouTube, Twitter @appleinsider and Facebook for live, late-breaking coverage. You can also check out our official Instagram account for exclusive photos.

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Apple Events tvOS app updated for Oct. 30 livestream

 

Apple on Wednesday pushed out an update to its Apple Events app for Apple TV, urging users to tune into a livestream of an Oct. 30 media event in New York.

As it does prior to every major livestreamed press gathering, Apple gave the Apple Events app a fresh coat of paint to mark the upcoming New York City keynote, at which the company is expected to unveiling iPad Pro and Mac hardware.

In addition to a purplish background hue, the app features logo artwork pulled from one of the more than 350 unique invitations sent out to media last week. Beyond artistic renderings of Apple’s logo, which strongly suggest an announcement related to iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, the announcements include the tagline “There’s more in the making.”

“Watch the special event — live from Brooklyn Academy of Music, Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn, New York — at [local time].”

Similar to past events, the tvOS app presents local livestream viewing times using collected location information, making it easy to plan for the big day. Apple is also streaming the event to select retail stores as special Today at Apple sessions.

Apple is widely expected to launch revamped iPad Pro models on Oct. 30. The new slates are rumored to come in 12.9- and 11-inch sizes, and feature a full-face design with reduced bezels thanks to Face ID integration. A second-generation Apple Pencil is also anticipated.

Refreshes to the iMac, MacBook and — potentially — Mac mini lines are also in the offing.

AppleInsider will be attending Apple’s “There’s more in the making” event on Oct 30th, where we expect new iPad Pros, and maybe even new Macs! Keep up with our coverage by downloading the AppleInsider app for iOS, and follow us on YouTube, Twitter @appleinsider and Facebook for live, late-breaking coverage. You can also check out our official Instagram account for exclusive photos.

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Hulu slims up ‘skinny’ bundle as it reprioritizes on-demand content

Hulu has started to work towards slimming down its “skinny” bundle of live TV channels in an effort to reprioritize sales on bread-and-butter on-demand content.

Hulu TV and Movies

Hulu CEO Randy Freer in an interview with The Information said he “wants to drop some live entertainment channels to be able to create smaller bundles of live sports, news, and on-demand entertainment in ways to appeal to more viewers and reduce costs.”

The streaming firm launched the “Hulu with Live TV” package less than two years ago in an ambitious attempt to compete with the likes of Sling, Dish and Google. The live TV package has been successful, garnering over a million subscribers to date, but is still a far cry from the 20 million people paying for its on-demand package.

Part of the strategy involves offering programs as on-demand content instead of live feeds. For Hulu, licensing costs make up the bulk of its expenses. Dropping certain channels to create skinnier bundles with new on-demand channels won’t necessarily curb those costs, but it does allow the company to save on the expensive equipment required to stream live content.

“The bundles are broken, and their channels are losing carriage,” Freer said, adding that programmers like Fox, Discovery, Viacom and NBCU are now promoting select channels instead of marketing all available channels en-masse. “Some of these brands won’t be strong enough […] You won’t need a live feed for all of them.”

Live content has attracted a healthy number of subscribers, but is still a loss leader for streaming purveyors. Hulu’s losses climbed to $423 million in the June quarter, up 135 percent year over year. Google has had similar issues with its YouTube TV service. It costs the search giant $49 per subscriber per month for its skinny bundle, which is $9 more than it currently charges customers.

Currently, media companies sell all their channels to a distributor bundled together. Hulu is interested in changing that to improve its flexibility and offer new, smaller bundles for sports, news and more.

Original content is also set to substantially increase going into next year for Hulu, though not nearly to the same degree as Netflix. Unlike Netflix, which hopes to primarily stream content they create themselves, Hulu looks to be an aggregation hub for other media companies, sprinkling in its own productions.

Live TV has been a differentiator for Hulu, where competitors such as Amazon and Netflix only offer on-demand options. New entrants Apple, WarnerMedia and Disney are all also expected rely mainly on on-demand content.

Apple is widely rumored to launch a streaming video service next year, potentially bundling Apple Music and an upcoming news service with a slate of original video content. How the company intends to monetize the product is unclear. A report last week suggested Apple plans to make its own shows free to view via the TV app on iPhone, iPad and the Apple TV, while at the same time offering subscriptions for outside online services.