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Star power at Apple launch

Apple trotted out few details on its long-awaiting streaming service on Monday, but it didn't skimp on high-wattage celebrity.

Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Jennifer Aniston were part of a parade of A-listers who took the stage at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, where the main attractions are usually the company's latest high-tech gadgets.

This time, though, it was the likes of Big Bird and Aquaman himself, Jason Momoa, who took the spotlight at Apple's latest live-streamed product launch.

"I'm joining forces with Apple," declared Winfrey. "They're in a billion pockets, y'all."

Apple chief executive Tim Cook gave what he called "a sneak peek" of the tech giant's plans to transform television viewing and jump — some analysts say belatedly — into the streaming business Netflix has pioneered.

The service, dubbed Apple TV Plus, will debut in the fall in more than 100 countries and feature ad-free original series and films. Cook and Apple declined to say how much the nascent streaming service will cost. It was unveiled as an extension of Apple's redesigned TV app, which will bundle third-party services like HBO, CBS and Showtime, along with a user's cable subscription and some streaming services like Hulu. Netflix has said it won't partake.

Much of both Hollywood and Silicon Valley had eagerly awaited details on Apple's much-ballyhooed foray into original programming, something the company had been quietly prepping for the last few years — and laying aside at least $1 billion to do so. But it's not the only company readying a rival to Netflix, which spent $12 billion on content last year. The Walt Disney Co. and AT&T's WarnerMedia are both set to unveil their own platforms later this year.

Standing out from the pack will be a challenge for each. Disney's streaming service, named Disney-Plus, even bears a plus-symbol just like Apple's service.

"It's not just another streaming service," said Zack Van Amburg, who along with Jamie Erlicht was hired away from Sony TV to head Apple's video programming.

Cook didn't map out how extensive Apple's streaming library will be; it has about two dozen series and a handful of movies in the pipeline. But he promised big ambitions. "We partnered with the most thoughtful, accomplished and award-winning group of creative visionaries who have ever come together in one place, to create a new service unlike anything that's been done before," he said.



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