Apple TV+ might become the first US streaming service to launch in China... kind of

Apple TV
Apple TV (Image credit: iMore)

Despite being newer to the scene, Apple TV+ has put out some highly ranked movies and TV shows. Numbers are growing, despite an entertainment expert claiming "no one is watching Apple TV." And it looks like Apple wants to take this success overseas, expanding the streaming service to China. Should this happen, it would be the first US streamer to land in China.

According to The Information, Apple’s been having some hush-hush chats with telecom behemoth China Mobile about this grand plan. But don't get too excited just yet. Things wouldn't be quite as straightforward as firing up the app on your iPhone. In order to meet Chinese regulation, the streamer would only be available on select devices.

How would Apple TV+ in China work?

If this deal goes through, don’t expect to binge Ted Lasso on your iPhone in Beijing anytime soon. In true Chinese regulatory style, Apple TV+ would be accessible only through China Mobile's set-top boxes. The grand scheme is to offer Apple TV+ via China Mobile for a monthly fee, with the content getting prime real estate on those set-top boxes. Apple and China Mobile would split the revenue.

Talks have been simmering since last year, but it’s all a bit murky where things stand now. Apparently, Apple wanted to shout this partnership from the rooftops last year, but something (or someone) threw a spanner in the works. If Apple Music’s cut-price deal in China is anything to go by (less than $2 a month compared to $10.99 in the US), expect Apple TV+ to follow suit.

Apple is careful not to ruffle feathers with its content – a lesson learned the hard way with Jon Stewart's exit from his Apple TV+ talk show after the company allegedly balked at covering politically sensitive topics like, you guessed it, China. But the potential payoff is huge. China is one of Apple's biggest markets. Plus, we're talking about tapping into one of the largest populations in the world.

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Connor Jewiss

Connor is a technology writer and editor, with a byline on multiple platforms. He has been writing for around seven years now across the web and in print too. Connor has experience on most major platforms, though does hold a place in his heart for macOS, iOS/iPadOS, electric vehicles, and smartphone tech.