Netflix, Amazon, and now Hulu have both become synonymous with prestige TV, but there’s one giant tech company not far behind the two streaming services — at least in theory. In the past year, Apple has made moves to compete with Netflix, Hulu, and premium cable channels (like HBO and Showtime) for the peak TV crown in 2019.
With more TV series — and places to watch them — than ever, Apple is putting a reported $1 billion toward adding to the peak TV pile. While the company began its foray into scripted series with two current shows offered through Apple Music — the tech-themed Shark Tank–esque reality competition Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke: The Series — the competition really ramped up when it hired veteran TV executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht in June 2017. The duo formerly ran Sony Pictures Television, the studio that brought the world Breaking Bad and The Crown.
Van Amburg and Erlicht have engaged in aggressive bidding wars for some of TV’s hottest projects, according to a New York Times report, and will likely surpass its reported budget in doing so. With more than a dozen projects currently in the works, it’s clear the company is ready to spend money to compete with TV’s current titans. (Planet of the Apps, which featured guest judges including Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba, didn’t get much critical acclaim when it debuted in June 2017. Carpool Karaoke: The Series, a spin-off of James Corden’s popular Late Late Show segment, has been ordered for a second season.)
Apple held a star-studded launch event at its Cupertino, Calif. headquarters to announce its new streaming product and original series offerings. Called Apple TV+, the service is scheduled to roll out its programming in fall of 2019.
Below, we’ve rounded up a list of all the titles that are headed to or intended for the tech giant. Some are in development, while the others are series orders (and have even completed filming). Read on to find out who the players are and more about the shows.
UPDATED (3/25/19): Apple held a massive launch announcement that included presentations from stars including Steven Spielberg, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell, Jason Momoa, Alfre Woodard, J.J. Abrams, Sara Bareilles, and even Big Bird. Check out the updated list of everything we know below.
Talent: Witherspoon and Aniston are both set to star in and executive produce the drama, which was one of the first scripted series Apple announced. While Jay Carson (House of Cards) was originally signed on to write the project, he has since departed and Bates Motel boss Kerry Ehrin took over. Steve Carell will play the male lead.
What it’s about: The morning show drama has already been ordered for two seasons and 20 episodes and will draw background from Brian Stelter’s book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: With the star power and bona fides of Big Little Lies star and producer Witherspoon and Friends vet Aniston, plus the creative power of Ehrin, it’s almost too big to fail. Then again, the drama surrounding Carson’s departure is never a good sign…
Talent: Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard star in the series, which was written by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight and directed by Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games).
What it’s about: The show is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the human race has lost the sense of sight.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: Momoa is a fan-favorite star, and with such high-caliber talent attached, this could go very, very well. (But since it’s got such an ambitious plot, there’s also plenty of opportunity for things to go very, very wrong.
Talent: Steven Spielberg is on board to revive his ’80s anthology series. Bryan Fuller (American Gods) and Hart Hanson (Bones) were originally on board to run the show, which was ordered for 10 episodes, but both departed in February 2018.
What it’s about: The sci-fi/horror/supernatural anthology series originally ran on NBC.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: Despite the talent involved, the creative departures could mean there’s more behind-the-scenes drama — which can lead to on-screen discord — afoot. Plus, the series sounds more like a pulpy guilty pleasure than prestige awards bait. Still, it was the first new original series Apple teased at its big announcement, so there seems to be plenty of faith in the series.
Talent: Tony-, Grammy-, and Emmy-nominated singer/songwriter/actress Sara Bareilles is writing the music (and could possibly star) in the J.J. Abrams-produced half-hour show, which received a straight-to-series order in June 2018.
What it’s about: Based on the singer’s first album, The Hollywood Reporter described the series as “a love letter to the diverse musicality of New York” that “explores the universal journey of finding your authentic voice in your early 20s.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: In addition to Bareilles and Abrams, the series will be run by Bareilles’ Waitress collaborator Jessie Nelson (who will also write and direct the first episode). With Waitress, Bareilles’ six Grammy nominees, and Abrams’ pedigree, this series has all the elements needed for success.
Talent: Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, the husband-and-wife team behind indie hit The Big Sick, are developing this series for Apple.
What it’s about: The anthology series is based on Epic Magazine’s series of the same name, described as “a small, collective portrait of America’s immigrants — and thereby a portrait of America itself.” Nanjiani announced at the Apple TV+ launch that the scripted series is being made solely by immigrants or children of immigrants, and will focus on everyday people.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: Given the tender eye and charm they gave their feature film debut, the Oscar-nominated duo are probably a safe bet.
Talent: In addition to re-launching her book club for Apple TV+, Oprah Winfrey is producing multiple documentaries for the service.
What it’s about: The first projects include a documentary on workplace abuse, and a series about mental health.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: Anyone who’s known by single moniker has the star power to pretty much launch anything they want. Come on, it’s Oprah! She won’t let us down.
Talent: Sesame Workshop is producing the series, which was announced at the Apple event by none other than Big Bird.
What it’s about: The preschool-targeted series will be an educational program about coding.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: If Sesame Street can continue educating children a half a century after its original launch,
Talent: Battlestar Galactica and Outlander creator Ronald D. Moore has teamed up with Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi (Fargo) for the still-untitled series.
What it’s about: The drama, which has been ordered straight to series, explores what would have happened if the global space race had never ended.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: Between BSG and Outlander, Moore certainly has both the cred and the goods to assume he’ll deliver on this one, too.
Talent: Hailee Steinfeld and Jane Krakowski are set to star as young poet Emily Dickinson and her mother, respectively.
What it’s about: The series is a half-hour comedy that “is set during Emily Dickinson’s era with a modern sensibility and tone. It takes viewers into the world of Emily, audaciously exploring the constraints of society, gender, and family from the perspective of a budding writer who doesn’t fit in to her own time through her imaginative point of view,” per Deadline.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: The star power is great, but the series logline is a little out there. We’ll have to wait and see to reserve judgement.
Talent: M. Night Shyamalan is executive producing and will direct the first episode of this series, from writer Tony Basgallop.
What it’s about: As if the king of big twists would reveal anything about his psychological thriller! Good to note: The first season will consist of 10 half-hour episodes and has been ordered straight to series.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: This one, like Shayamalan’s movies, depends on execution. Will it be a Sixth Sense or a Lady in the Water? Only time will tell.
Talent: Octavia Spencer is set to star in the drama, which is produced by Reese Witherspoon, created and written by Nichelle Tramble Spellman (The Good Wife, Justified), and based on true-crime novel by Kathleen Barber. Sarah Koenig, creator of the podcast phenomenon Serial, is consulting. Aaron Paul plays the male lead.
What it’s about: Are You Sleeping provides a unique glimpse into America’s obsession with true-crime podcasts and challenges its viewers to consider the consequences when the pursuit of justice is placed on a public stage. Spencer plays a disgraced journalist who returns to her hometown and revisits a case in which she played a pivotal role in her early career. Paul plays a man Spencer’s character helped put behind bars — but he could potentially be innocent of the crime.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: There’s a reason true-crime stories are so engrossing, and if this series can capture the source of that fascination, then it should thrive.
Talent: Taika Waititi is set to co-write and direct the pilot for the project, which will also involve the film’s original writer/director, Terry Gilliam.
What it’s about: While still in the development stages, the potential series is an adaptation of Gilliam’s 1981 fantasy film of the same name, about a young boy who joins a group of renegade time-traveling dwarves.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: Well, the original film is Certified Fresh, and at least five of Waititi’s most recent projects are CF or Fresh on the Tomatometer too. The odds are definitely in his favor.
Talent: Oscar winner and Marvel superhero Brie Larson is set to star.
What it’s about: The new series is “a look at a young woman’s journey in the CIA told through the prism of her closest relationships,” per Variety. The series is based on the experiences of real-life undercover CIA operative Amaryllis Fox and her upcoming memoir Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: Since 2010, Larson’s been a part of a whopping 11 Certified Fresh films, with an additional three films sitting at Fresh on the Tomatometer and just a few (okay, four) at Rotten. That’s a pretty stunning record. Let’s just hope the show is more of a Room than a Basmati Blues.
Talent: Captain America himself, Chris Evans, is starring in and executive producing the new series.
What it’s about: Based on the bestselling novel of the same name, this limited series follows assistant district attorney Andy Barber, who’s investigating the murder of a 14-year-old boy and discovers his son is a suspect.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: A fellow Hollywood Chris (Pine) had similar success executive producing and starring in the drama I Am the Night, so there’s no reason to think Evans couldn’t do the same.
Talent: Jennifer Garner and J.J. Abrams are staging an Alias reunion when the actress stars in the megaproducer’s latest TV project. She’ll also executive produce.
What it’s about: The series is based on the 2017 memoir of the same name by Amy Silverstein, and according to its official description (via The Hollywood Reporter), “the drama showcases the power of friendship and the resilience of the human spirit as it follows an extraordinary group of women who supported Silverstein as she waited for a second life-saving heart transplant.”
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: Alias ran for five seasons, and Garner and Abrams are both A-list movie stars (in front of and behind the camera). Chances for success are high.
Talent: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia stars and creators Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney are writing and executive producing a new half-hour comedy. The series will star McElhenney, F. Murray Abraham, David Hornsby, Danny Pudi, and more.
What it’s about: The sitcom follows the diverse group of people who work together in a video game development studio.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: Believe it or not, Sunny is one of the longest-running sitcoms of all time. Anyone who can crack the secret to that kind of longevity while still remaining culturally relevant and, most importantly, funny certainly has the potential to do it again.
Talent: Charlie Brown, Lucy, Pigpen, Snoopy — you know, all your favorites from Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts gang — will be the focus of this new series.
What it’s about: The first series from Apple’s deal acquiring the rights to the famous characters will be a science- and math-oriented short featuring Snoopy as an astronaut. This and other new originals with be produced with DHX Media, a Canadian production company that owns a large portion of children’s content, also including Yo Gabba Gabba! and the Teletubbies.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: You can’t really go wrong with such beloved characters.
Talent: David S. Goyer (Blade, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy) and Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Avatar 2) are developing an adaptation of the iconic novel series from famed sci-fi author Isaac Asimov for Skydance Television, the company behind Netflix’s ambitious Altered Carbon.
What it’s about: The book series inspired plenty of the sci-fi you love, including Star Wars. It follows a mathematician who predicts the collapse of humanity, which is scattered on planets throughout the galaxy and ruled by the Galactic Empire. The first book was published in 1951, followed by sequels in the subsequent years and two more in the ’80s, along with two prequels.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: There have been numerous attempts to turn Foundation into a feature film or a TV series before (including by disaster-movie king Roland Emmerich and Westworld creator Jonah Nolan). Needless to say, the subject matter is daunting and will require a deft approach to capturing the books’ rich world. It could go very, very wrong. But if done well, it could enjoy Game of Thrones–level success.
Talent: Richard Gere is set to star in and executive produce the drama series.
What it’s about: Based on the Israeli series Nevelot, the show will follow two elderly Vietnam vets whose lives are changed when a woman they both loved 50 years prior is killed in a car accident.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: Though he’s had a storied film career, this is Gere’s first foray into television — so it’ll definitely be worth checking out.
Talent: The Florida Project’s Brooklynn Prince is set to play the lead in the upcoming series, which is executive produced by Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu. Jim Sturgess will play her father.
What it’s about: Inspired by the real-life story of Hilde Lysiak, a 9-year-old investigative reporter who uncovered a murder in her Pennsylvania hometown and broke the news in a paper she started herself, the ten-episode mystery series “follows a young girl who moves from Brooklyn to the small lakeside town her father left behind. While there, her dogged pursuit of the truth leads her to unearth a cold case that everyone in town, including her own father, tried hard to bury,” per Deadline.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: Prince received plenty of great reviews for her film debut, but that’s no guarantee of success in a crowded TV landscape.
Talent: La La Land director Damien Chazelle is writing and directing every episode of this straight-to-series drama.
What it’s about: No details about the series have been released, other than the fact that it’s the Oscar winner’s second foray into streaming TV (he’s also involved in Netflix’s musical drama The Eddy).
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: Since there isn’t any information on what the show is even about, this isn’t a call that can be made quite yet. But Chazelle is batting two for two with his films Whiplash and La La Land, and his upcoming Neil Armstrong biopic First Man looks to be an awards contender.
Talent: Apple has ordered two seasons of the series, from Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard, actor Josh Gad (pictured), and Nora Smith, which will feature voice talent from Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Titus Burgess, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci, Daveed Diggs, and Kathryn Hahn.
What it’s about: The animated musical comedy follows a family of caretakers who live and work in Central Park and end up saving the park — and basically the world.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: Bob’s Burgers is Emmy-nominated, so that pedigree plus the voice talent involved means there’s certainly the potential for critical acclaim.
Talent: NBA star Kevin Durant is producing the series along with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Television, and Reggie Rock Blythewood (Shots Fired, Notorious) is writing.
What it’s about: Based on the early life and career of Durant, Swagger will explore the world of Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball and the lives of the players, their families, and coaches.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: Like a jump ball, it’s up in the air. The series is still being developed.
Talent: This international series has no major Hollywood players attached, but comes from creator Timothée Hochet.
What it’s about: The first international co-production for Apple is an English adaptation of the French short-form series of the same name, which allows “audiences to experience short stories through real-life audio sources and minimal visuals,” per Deadline.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: This is a format the U.S. hasn’t really seen before, so there’s plenty of potential for a really innovative, groundbreaking series.
Talent: Documentarian Matt Tyrnauer (Valentino: The Last Emperor, pictured) will direct all 10 one-hour episodes of the first season.
What it’s about: Home offers viewers a never-before-seen look inside the world’s most extraordinary homes and delves into the minds of the people who built them.
Chances it’ll be a Certified Fresh hit: If Tyrnauer serves up the dishy stories behind those gated palaces, the series is sure to be more than simply gorgeous real estate porn.