U.S. Markets open in 4 hrs 44 mins

Apple TV+ will cost much less than Netflix—but don’t let that excite you too much

Adam Epstein
Apple tv+ see tim cook

Apple TV+, the upcoming streaming service, will cost $4.99 a month and launch Nov. 1, Apple announced today. People who buy a new Apple device with the TV app pre-installed will get a year’s worth of the service for free.

That’s a good deal—but remember, Apple TV+ is expected to have much less content than Netflix. The service will launch with only a few shows available; Apple will add more each month.

No one knows exactly what to expect. Will its original TV shows and movies carve out its own aesthetic? Is the tech company targeting a specific demographic, or just anyone who buys (or might buy) an Apple device? And will it succeed in a crowded marketplace because it has so much money and so many Hollywood icons backing it? We’ll find out when it launches Nov. 1.

The biggest question—maybe the only one that really matters—is: Will this stuff be any good? Luckily, we know a fair amount about the shows and movies Apple plans to present. It’s a mix of big ideas and small, sci-fi and mystery, drama and goofball comedy.

The one thing that links all these shows is that Apple promises they will each be part of a curated, prestigious, top-tier product—not unlike the offerings from one of Apple’s new competitors, HBO.

Originals debuting Nov. 1

The Morning Show

A lot is riding on The Morning Show, a dramedy starring a trio of A-list lead actors about the behind-the-scenes drama at an American morning talk show, a la NBC’s Today. (The Apple series is not so subtly mining the Matt Lauer sexual-harassment scandal for inspiration.)

Between Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell, it’s hard to imagine The Morning Show doesn’t find a sizable audience. As the most expensive show on a per-episode basis in history, it’ll need to do more than that. Apple pretty much needs the The Morning Show to be a critical and commercial hit to prove the validity of its programming ambitions—almost as a proof of concept. No one has any idea if Apple truly knows what it’s doing when it comes to making original content. The Morning Show will be the first important measuring stick.

For All Mankind

What if the Soviet Union, not the US, landed a man on the moon first, and the space race never ended? That’s the big question explored by For All Mankind, a sci-fi alt-history series created by Battlestar Galactica producer Ronald D. Moore, who knows a thing or two about setting TV shows in space.

Space is all the rage across TV and film right now, and For All Mankind looks like it’s got the required production values and creative team to add something snazzy. It doesn’t have nearly the star power of The Morning Show. It won’t need it to reel in die-hard space and science-fiction fans.

Dickinson

Well then! Dickinson is Apple’s first real attempt at trying something…different. That’s often how some of the best TV shows start, and this seems like it could just as easily turn into an ironic internet meme as an Emmy winner.

Hailee Steinfeld plays the titular American poet in this period comedy “with a modern sensibility and tone.” The trailer makes that apparent: Young Emily and her friends look and act more like modern Americans than classic Victorian women. And surely that is from where much of the humor will be derived. Dickinson also stars Emmy nominee and Tony winner Jane Krakowski as the poet’s mother.

See

Game of Thrones meets Bird Box meets A Quiet Place meets Hunger Games? That about cover it? This fantasy drama starring Jason Momoa takes place “600 years in the future after a virus has decimated humankind and rendered the remaining population blind.” This is Apple’s most high-concept attempt at prestige TV—it’d probably be on Netflix if not on Apple.

Apple says it worked with blind and vision-impaired cast, crew, and consultants to craft a world that feels true. The trailer above is also available with audio descriptions here.

Also coming from Apple TV+ at launch

Helpsters: A children’s series from the creators of Sesame Street.

Snoopy in Space: An original series that “takes viewers on a journey with Snoopy as he follows his dreams to become an astronaut.”

Ghostwriter: A “reinvention” of the 1990s kids’ series about a team of four kid detectives “who are brought together by a mysterious ghost in a neighborhood bookstore.”

The Elephant Queen: A documentary film that follows a “majestic matriarch elephant” on an “epic journey of life, loss and homecoming.”

Oprah Winfrey: We don’t know exactly what Oprah’s got cooking for Apple, which has only divulged that she will join “the world’s most compelling authors in conversation as she builds a vibrant, global book club community and other projects to connect with people around the world and share meaningful ways to create positive change.”

 

Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief, our free daily newsletter with the world’s most important and interesting news.

More stories from Quartz: