The $4.99-a-month service will be followed by Disney+, Peacock and HBO Max

A crowded series of SVOD service launches, hyperbolically referred to as “the streaming wars,” kicks off today with the official global launch of Apple TV+.

The $4.99-a-month streaming service will launch with less than 10 original shows, a very limited back catalog, and access to premium pay TV channels including HBO and Starz.

Apple is offering the service for one year free to recent purchasers of iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch and Apple TV. After making most of its bread through hardware like iPhones for decades, Apple is trying to further grow a services business that expanded by 18% in the fiscal fourth quarter to $12.5 billion in revenue.

But the Apple TV+ app is also available for popular OTT devices, including Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

How does it stack up against Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and the flurry of soon-to-launch competition?

The $4.99 price point is low—it’s cheaper than the Cupertino, California computer giant’s other service offerings, including Apple Music, Apple News+ and Apple’s cloud storage service.

But subscribers aren’t getting a ton in the beginning. Apple TV+ will launch with less than 10 shows, and there are only 15 on its initial slate. Compare that to HBO Max, which will launch next year with a $14.99 price point but include more than 10,000 hours of content.

“The number of streaming households that go out of their way to subscribe to Apple TV+ will be fairly limited initially due to limited content,” Michael Olson, an analyst at Piper Jaffray who covers Apple and Netflix, told Bloomberg.

Apple is hoping that at least some of its initial programming slate yields some hits that allow the service to grow. The content selection—and the price point—will grow over time.

So far, the reviews are tepid.

“Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston can't salvage this politically muddled, underthought, and underwhelming streaming misfire,” reads the subhead to

of The Morning Show.

Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Feinberg wrote that new Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard sci-fi series See has “just enough to make you believe that under the right circumstances, there might be a good show here somewhere, eventually,”

For now, however, See "is rarely better than so-so,” Feinberg concludes.

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