Update: PS4 owners will be able to enjoy Friday Night Baseball on Apple TV Plus for themselves, with Apple offering three months free access to all console owners.
Apple TV Plus, since launch, has felt like small-ball. And that's not an insult. Much like the Oakland Athletics, Tim Cook's streaming team has been putting together base-hit (Schmigadoon!) after base-hit (Mythic Quest), and eventually knocking home runs with its bigger successes (Ted Lasso, Trying).
But at Tuesday's "Peek Performance" Apple Event, Tim Cook's streaming service turned up the heat. Apple TV Plus made serious waves in two categories, one it had already played in, and another that was only the stuff of rumors.
With these announcements and title reveals, Apple's actually made me happier, I'll explain why below.
- Apple TV Plus has a 7-day free trial (opens in new tab)
Apple TV Plus finally gets into live sports
If all those baseball metaphors above didn't make it obvious, I'll continue by saying it's a huge deal that Apple TV Plus is getting live MLB baseball games (whenever the lockout ends, that is). The details are short and fast: Apple TV Plus will stream a double-header dubbed MLB Friday Night Baseball. And, showing that Apple gets live sports right (at least in one way), there will be no local blackout restrictions (opens in new tab).
Apple TV Plus sits in a world with tons of competition, and its library has taken time to grow into something worth considering beyond a single show here and there. And ask anyone who knows anything about TV right now, live sports and live events are one of the most hotly sought-after things in the industry (which makes it odd that Netflix has yet to try this out).
Prime Video has Thursday Night NFL games and Hulu streams the occasional concert, and Peacock and Paramount Plus both do live events, with the former streaming WWE events, the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics and the latter dabbling in all sorts of things including NFL and UEFA games. Heck, HBO Max's Latin America version has live soccer (opens in new tab) as well.
Live events are nearly table-stakes right now, unless you're too big to think you've got competitors (hi Disney Plus). Who knows what games Apple TV Plus will get, and how much will be on the line during them. But for now, anyone who wants Apple TV Plus to be worth the price over time should see this as a win, no matter what team they root for. Relatedly, I imagine the price to host the March Madness 2022 live streams must be huge for CBS and the Turner networks that carry those games.
Apple TV Plus' next movies look huge
I've known about Argylle, an upcoming action movie from Matthew Vaughn (the Kingsman movies, Kick-Ass and others) for quite some time. An impressively-cast spy flick with Henry Cavill, Sam Rockwell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O'Hara, John Cena and Samuel L. Jackson on the bill, Argylle is supposed to start a whole series of movies with at least a trilogy to start. It sounded like a movie I'd need to be going to a theater to see.
It turns out I was wrong, as the Apple TV Plus sizzle reel for its upcoming slate of films showed off the first look at Argylle. And while everyone was chuckling at Henry Cavill's oddly-coiffed hair in the film, I was nodding my head at Apple's direction. Check it out in this below video of the Apple March 8 event, it's near the beginning.
While Apple TV Plus' movie reel started with its award-nominees, it was focused on what's to come. Spirited, a modernish Christmas Carol starring Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell, looks plenty charming and the Sundance award-winner Cha Cha Real Smooth got a date (June 17, 2022). There's even an interesting animated movie called Luck, which features voice-acting from Simon Pegg, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Flula Borg and Lil Rel Howery.
While TV shows are still big business for streaming services, movies have become ever-more important for the industry. HBO Max practically made its name off of having big movies the same day they hit theaters. Netflix's annual movie list video has become an event, with this year's iteration revealing the first look at Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans in The Gray Man and the new cast of Knives Out 2.
Why this all matters to me
But why am I so excited about all of this? The movies part is easy to understand, but I'm only a baseball fan during that annual outing I take with my dad to Yankees Stadium for his birthday.
I think about Apple TV Plus as something I really want more out of, because I have no real interest in canceling. That's not because I can look past its $4.99 monthly price (opens in new tab), far from it. This is because the price of the high-end Apple One bundle makes it impossible for me, someone who uses Apple Music and needs the highest iCloud storage amount, to leave.
I'm very glad that Apple's showing signs that it's taking Apple TV Plus seriously. Because this action today shows that Apple will take the necessary steps to continue to keep Apple TV Plus relevant. Recent shows such as The Afterparty and Severance have helped make Apple TV Plus a destination, but today's presentation does a whole lot more than a couple of shows I recommend can.
It's not that all the millions (and millions) it invested in the shows for the service showed any lack of seriousness. I always recall, though, how Apple CEO Tim Cook once referred to the Apple TV hardware as a "hobby" (opens in new tab). If I'm going to keep having Apple TV Plus, it's nice to see that Apple's definitely not treating Apple TV Plus as a hobby.
In other streaming TV news, Upload season 2 is here! And we've finally got the Peaky Blinders season 6 Netflix release date for those in the states, and all the info on how to watch Peaky Blinders season 6 episode 3 online around the world, too.