Apple has lifted the curtain on a television and movie streaming service that will allow users of its 1.4 billion gadgets worldwide to stream television shows and movies.

These will include both Apple originals and those from other creators.

It represents the tech giant’s first step to challenge streaming video leaders Netflix and Amazon.

The launch was the centerpiece of an event at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California, that focused on the technology company's services, not its hardware, as it deals with declining sales of its iPhone.

Apple also introduced updates to its payment system, launched a games arcade, and added magazines to its news app.

Hollywood celebrities trekked to Apple's home to help debut a revamped Apple TV digital storefront, called Apple TV+.

Apple has commissioned programming from Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg.

Apple's jump into original entertainment signals a fundamental shift in its business as sales of hardware money-makers drop off.

Without another category-defining new gadget announced to the public, Apple is looking to rely more on selling subscriptions and services like video, music and hardware insurance.

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Throughout their presentation, Apple executives stressed privacy protections for consumers as they shop and consume content across a range of Apple phones, iPads or other hardware.

They also emphasised content that would appeal to young audiences, potentially setting the stage for a rivalry with Walt Disney.

The company led off the event with an announcement that its free news app will now come in a paid-subscription version, called Apple News+, which curates a range of news articles and will include 300 magazines including National Geographic, People, Popular Science, Billboard and the New Yorker.

Apple said it would cost $9.99 a month and is available from today in the US, with the service coming to the UK in the autumn.

Apple also introduced a titanium, laser-etched Apple Card backed by Goldman Sachs and Mastercard that can track spending across devices and pay daily cash back on purchases of up to 3%.

The card also has no fees.

It will be accepted anywhere that Apple Pay is accepted and the company said it would be easily set up using an iPhone.

The company also introduced Apple Arcade, a game subscription service that will work on phones, tablets and desktop computers and includes over 100 games from a range of developers.

Those games will be downloadable and will be playable offline, with a promise of no ads or additional purchases needed.

It will be available from the autumn across 150 countries. The price was not disclosed.

With its new media push, Apple joins a crowded field where rivals such as Amazon’s Prime Video and Netflix have spent heavily to capture viewer attention and dollars with award-winning series and films.

The big tech war for viewers ignited a consolidation wave among traditional media companies preparing to join the fray.

Walt Disney, which bought 21st Century Fox, and AT&T, which purchased Time Warner, plan to launch or test new streaming video services this year.

Revenue from its "services" segment - which includes the AppStore, iCloud and content businesses such as Apple Music – grew 24% to $37.1 billion last year.

The segment accounted for only about 14% of Apple's overall $265.6 billion in revenue, but investors have pinned their hopes for growth on the segment.