Apple Announces New Apple TV 4K Device With High-Frame-Rate HDR and Dolby Vision

Apple April 20 announced the next generation of Apple TV 4K, delivering high frame rate HDR with Dolby Vision.

The new Apple TV 4K features an A12 Bionic chip that provides a significant boost in graphics performance, video decoding and audio processing, according to Apple. The Siri Remote also has a new design.

The new Apple TV 4K will be available starting at $179 (U.S.) from apple.com, in the Apple Store app, and at Apple Store locations. Apple TV 4K is also available through Apple Authorized Resellers and select pay TV providers.

Customers can order the new Apple TV 4K beginning April 30, with availability beginning in the second half of May in more than 30 countries and regions, including the United States. Apple TV HD with the new Siri Remote will be available for $149. The new Siri Remote will be available separately for $59, and is compatible with the previous-generation Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD.

“Apple TV 4K is in a category of its own, leveraging a deep integration of Apple hardware, software, and services that delivers a massive upgrade to any TV for the very best cinematic experience,” said Bob Borchers, Apple’s VP of worldwide product marketing, in a statement. “With the A12 Bionic and the all-new Siri Remote, Apple TV 4K lets customers enjoy their favorite shows, movies, and more in the highest quality, with simple and intuitive controls. And of course, Apple TV 4K offers easy access to Apple services, along with thousands of apps on the App Store for even more entertainment options.”

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With A12 Bionic, Apple TV 4K now supports high frame rate HDR (High Dynamic Range) and Dolby Vision video, enabling fast-moving action at 60 frames per second (fps) to play more smoothly and appear more lifelike, according to the Apple announcement. Apple is working with leading video providers around the world, including FOX Sports, NBCUniversal, Paramount+, Red Bull TV and Canal+, as they begin to stream in high-frame-rate HDR. With high-frame-rate support in AirPlay, videos shot on iPhone 12 Pro can be displayed in full 60-fps Dolby Vision on the new Apple TV 4K.

Through a new color balance process, Apple TV works with iPhone and its advanced sensors to improve a television’s picture quality, according to the announcement. Apple TV uses the light sensor in the iPhone to compare the color balance to the industry-standard specifications used by cinematographers worldwide. Using this data, Apple TV automatically tailors its video output to deliver much more accurate colors and improved contrast — without customers ever having to adjust their television settings, according to Apple.

The new Siri remote for Apple TV

The new Siri Remote features a clickpad control that offers five-way navigation for better accuracy and is also touch-enabled for fast directional swipes. The outer ring of the clickpad supports a circular gesture that turns it into a jog control, which can be used for finding a scene in a movie or show. The new Siri Remote also has a power button that controls a TV’s power and another for mute to eliminate the need for other remots. Using Siri, customers can search for specific shows or movies, control smart home accessories, check sports scores or the weather and more, according to Apple. Siri now works on Apple TV in Austria, Ireland, and New Zealand, joining the 13 countries and regions that already support Siri.

Apple TV 4K runs tvOS. AirPlay on Apple TV 4K lets customers effortlessly share videos, school projects and other content from their iPhone, iPad or Mac directly to the TV. Videos shot on iPhone 12 Pro can be displayed in full 60-fps Dolby Vision with high frame rate support in AirPlay. Apple TV 4K can be used as a home hub to control HomeKit accessories, and allows customers to view HomeKit video cameras and doorbell notifications on the television screen. With multiuser support on Apple TV 4K, family members can see personalized recommendations for shows, movies and music, access their purchased apps in the App Store, or play games on Apple Arcade.

For the first time, AppleCare+ will be available for Apple TV, providing three years of technical support and additional hardware coverage, including up to two incidents of accidental damage protection every 12 months.

Netflix Quietly Bows Movies in Theaters — Ahead of Streaming

Netflix was the first movie producer to flaunt the traditional theatrical window, contending its original feature films should be made available to subscribers concurrently with any box office exhibition. The streamer’s stance angered exhibitors, resulting in most Netflix movies being boycotted by theatrical chains.

Then came the pandemic and traditional mindsets and business practices gave way to change.

During the pandemic, Netflix quietly entered the theatrical market after negotiating a distribution deal with No. 3 U.S. exhibitor Cinemark. In November and December, respectively, Netflix released Christmas Chronicles 2 and The Prom on Cinemark screens for an exclusive one-week window before they streamed on the Netflix platform.

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“We assume that Netflix negotiated a much lower film rent fee with Cinemark than studios do for a typical theatrical window, and lower than what Universal Pictures will pay exhibitors for its exclusive 17/31-day windows,” Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, wrote in a note.

Netflix, which has become a perennial Oscar contender with its original movies, hasn’t been shy from debuting titles in Los Angeles theaters to assuage industry awards rules. The streamer bowed Klaus, The Two Popes, Marriage Story, The Irishman​, The King and The Laundromat​ on the big screen prior to its platform.

Last year, Netflix acquired the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles, in part to debut premiere original movies. American Cinematheque, the nonprofit organization that previously owned the Egyptian, will continue to screen movies on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Pachter said Apple TV+ released its original documentary Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry on its platform day-and-date with a theatrical release. He said tickets were available a week ahead of its Cinemark availability, but it was released on Feb. 26 in theaters and on the streaming platform. With no exclusive theatrical window, Pachter said he believes Apple negotiated a smaller film rental fee with Cinemark compared to what Netflix received, and both streamers received less in compensation than studios with longer exclusive theatrical windows.

“While these are clearly exceptional times and exhibitors are willing to negotiate terms they typically would not have in a pre-COVID environment, we think these types of negotiations will continue, and we expect to see more original content from streamers playing in theatres post-pandemic,” Pachter wrote. “We think exhibitors are now more willing to negotiate favorable terms with far more flexible windows than they had in the past, as long as their counterpart is willing to pay.”

‘Defending Jacob’ Due on DVD July 6 From Paramount

The limited series Defending Jacob will arrive on DVD July 6 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

The series premiered on the streaming service Apple TV+.

A gripping, character-driven thriller based on the 2012 best-selling novel of the same name, “Defending Jacob” unfolds around a shocking crime that rocks a small Massachusetts town and one family in particular, forcing an assistant district attorney (Chris Evans) to choose between his sworn duty to uphold justice and his unconditional love for his son.

The series also stars Michelle Dockery (“Downton Abbey”), Jaeden Martell (ItKnives Out), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), and Cherry Jones (“The Handmaid’s Tale”).

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The three-DVD set features all eight episodes, along with exclusive bonus content including deleted scenes and two behind-the-scenes featurettes. The series will also be available on Blu-ray through manufacturing-on-demand.

Apple Greenlights Louis Armstrong Doc

Apple Original Films has greenlighted the Louis Armstrong documentary feature Black & Blues: The Colorful Ballad of Louis Armstrong from Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries to join its feature film slate.

The film offers a definitive look at the master musician’s life and legacy as a founding father of jazz, the first pop star and a cultural ambassador of the United States. He was loved by millions worldwide but often mischaracterized for not doing enough to support the civil rights movement. In reality, his fight for social justice was fueled by his celebrity and his willingness to break his silence on issues of segregation and patriotism. With the support of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, the filmmakers have access to never-before-seen archival materials, including hundreds of hours of audio recordings, film footage, photographs, personal diaries and a life’s worth of ephemera for exclusive use in the first significant documentary dedicated entirely to Armstrong’s life.

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The documentary, which is produced under Apple’s first-look agreement with Imagine Documentaries, will be directed by Sacha Jenkins (Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men), and will be produced by Jenkins, Julie Anderson, Sara Bernstein and Justin Wilkes. Brian Grazer and Ron Howard serve as executive producers. The project is being produced in association with Universal Music Group’s Polygram Entertainment, with Michele Anthony and David Blackman serving as executive producers.

Apple TV+ Orders ‘The Crowded Room’

Apple TV+ has ordered the series “The Crowded Room,” with Tom Holland starring in the lead role of the first season.

The anthology series will be produced by Apple Studios and New Regency, with Academy Award winner Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) set to write and executive produce.

Holland also will serve as executive producer alongside Goldsman.

“The Crowded Room” will explore the true and inspirational stories of those who have struggled and learned to successfully live with mental illness.

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The anthology’s 10-episode first season is inspired by the award-winning biography The Minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes. It tells the story of Billy Milligan (Holland), the first person ever acquitted of a crime because of multiple personality disorder (now known as dissociative identity disorder).

Roku Dominates ‘March Madness’ Streaming

With the 2021 NCAA College Basketball National Championship Tournament, a.k.a. March Madness, readying for the Sweet 16 elimination rounds, sports fans are increasingly streaming games via standalone media devices and connected televisions. The opening round set new records with more than a billion minutes streamed across 32 games in just two days, according to new data from Conviva.

The tournament thus far reveals an ongoing trend streaming games on the big TV screen. Historically the first day of round one sees the most viewership. This held true this year as day one netted 15% more time spent streaming than day two, according to the report.

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Streaming on television increased significantly in the first two rounds to 68% share of time spent in round one, from 48% in 2019 and just 41% in the opening days of 2018. While streaming games on the PC lost market share, the increase in TV consumption comes primarily at the expense of mobile viewing, which decreased to less than half the share held during the previous March Madness. The report attributed this to the pandemic-trend of in-home viewing and the overall, multiyear trend of increased streaming via televisions.

More than 40% of the tournament thus far has been streamed on TVs through Roku devices, followed by Amazon Fire TV (26%), Samsung TV (10%), and Apple TV with 8% share. LG TV and Xbox each tallied 4% share, with Chromecast picking up 3%. Irvine, Calif.-based Vizio, Android TV, and PlayStation lagged behind the field with under 2% share of viewing time.

Conviva reported that social media engagements per post rose an average of 164% for teams in round one as compared to the regular season. Teams tallied 3 million total cross-platform engagements over just two days in the first round of the tournament, with Wisconsin, Syracuse, and Illinois taking the top three spots for total cross-platform engagements.

March Madness often vaults unexpected teams into national view. This year it’s Oral Roberts with 15 times the number of social media engagements per post versus the regular season, and leading in cross-platform, Twitter, and Instagram engagement rates.

Disney+ Show ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ Top Rising Show on TV Time Chart

The Disney+ original series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” was the top rising show on the TV Time chart for the week ended March 21.

The limited series, which launched March 19, features Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie reprising their Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero roles. The mismatched duo teams up for a global adventure.

Netflix’s “Sky Rojo” took the silver on the rising show chart. The Spanish series, which began streaming March 19, follows a fatal turn of events at a brothel that sends three women on a wild run from their pimp and his henchmen.

Taking the bronze on the rising show chart was the Apple TV+ series “Calls,” which also hit screens March 19. Told through a series of interconnected phone conversations, it chronicles the mysterious story of a group of strangers whose lives are thrown into disarray in the lead-up to an apocalyptic event. The series stars Lily Collins, Nick Jonas and Pedro Pascal.

Meanwhile, “Attack on Titan” again took the top spot on TV Time’s binge chart for the week. The anime series is based on the manga and is set in a world where humanity lives within cities surrounded by enormous walls that protect them from gigantic man-eating humanoids referred to as Titans.

Netflix’s “Ginny & Georgia,” which hit screens Feb. 24, came in second on the binge chart. It follows angsty and awkward 15-year-old Ginny Miller, who often feels more mature than her 30-year-old mother, the dynamic Georgia Miller. After years on the run, Georgia desperately wants to put down roots in picturesque New England and give her family something they’ve never had — a normal life. But Georgia’s past threatens her and her family’s new way of life.

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TV Time, a Whip Media company, is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by almost 1 million consumers every day, according to the service. The weekly “Binge Report” ranks shows with the most binge sessions. A binge session is when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the app in a given day. The “Shows on the Rise” chart is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program. The network displayed is the network where the show first aired (e.g. “Friends” on NBC).

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Top Binge Shows Week Ended March 21 by Share of Binges:

  1. “Attack on Titan” (NHK) — 2.39%
  2. “Ginny & Georgia” (Netflix) — 2.06%
  3. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC U.S.) — 2.04%
  4. “Modern Family” (ABC U.S.) — 2.04%
  5. “One Piece” (Fuji TV) — 1.55%
  6. “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” (Netflix) — 1.35%
  7. “The Office” (U.S.) (NBC) — 1.27%
  8. “New Amsterdam” (NBC) — 1.20%
  9. “Naruto Shippuden” (TV Tokyo) — 1.10%
  10. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC) — 1.04%

 

Top “Shows on the Rise” Week Ended March 21 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (Disney+) — 100%
  2. “Sky Rojo” (Netflix) — 100%
  3. “Calls” (Apple TV+) — 99.6%
  4. “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” (Netflix) — 94.3%
  5. “Mayans M.C.” (FX) — 90.3%
  6. “B: The Beginning” (Netflix) — 85.1%
  7. “Mother’s Love” (Rede Globo) — 83.6%
  8. “Super Dragon Ball Heroes” (YouTube) — 76.1%
  9. “All Rise” (CBS) — 72.8%
  10. “The One” (Netflix) — 66.4%

Apple TV+ Orders Comedy Series Starring Maya Rudolph

Streaming service Apple TV+ has ordered a new half-hour comedy series starring Emmy Award winner Maya Rudolph.

Created by Peabody and Emmy Award winner Alan Yang (“Little America,” “Master of None”) and Emmy Award winner Matt Hubbard (“30 Rock,” “Forever”), the series will feature Rudolph (“Saturday Night Live,” “Forever”) as Molly, a woman whose seemingly perfect life is upended after her husband leaves her with nothing but $87 billion.

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The project marks the second collaboration between Apple TV+ and Yang following the premiere of the three-time Independent Spirit Award and NAACP Image Award-nominated anthology series “Little America.”

Apple TV+ is $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial. For a limited time, customers who purchase a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch can get one year of Apple TV+ for free.

Apple Orders Limited Series ‘Lady in the Lake’ Starring Natalie Portman and Lupita Nyong’o

Apple has given a straight-to-series order for “Lady in the Lake,” a new limited series that will co-star Academy Award winners Natalie Portman and Lupita Nyong’o.

The series is directed and co-written by Alma Har’el. Dre Ryan, who will co-create and co-write the series with Har’el, will write the pilot.

“Lady in the Lake” is an adaptation of Laura Lippman’s New York Times best-selling novel of the same name. The series takes place in 1960s Baltimore, where an unsolved murder pushes housewife and mother Maddie Schwartz (Portman) to reinvent her life as an investigative journalist and sets her on a collision course with Cleo Sherwood (Nyong’o), a hard-working woman juggling motherhood, many jobs and a passionate commitment to advancing Baltimore’s Black progressive agenda.

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“Lady in the Lake” marks Natalie Portman’s first foray into television, as well as Alma Har’el’s first television project. Har’el’s most recent film, Honey Boy, won her the Sundance 2019 Special Jury Directing Award for Craft and Vision, received four Independent Spirit Awards nominations including Best Director, and made her the first woman to win the DGA Award for First-Time Feature Film. She is also the first woman in DGA Awards history to be nominated for both commercial directing (2018) and narrative directing (2020).

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“Lady in the Lake,” produced by Crazyrose and Bad Wolf America, is executive produced by Har’el alongside producing partner Christopher Leggett through her new production company, Zusa. In addition to starring, Portman and Nyong’o will serve as executive producers on the series, alongside Portman’s producing partner Sophie Mas. Crazyrose principals Jean-Marc Vallée and Nathan Ross will also serve as executive producers, and Julie Gardner will executive produce for Bad Wolf America. Author Laura Lippman and Dre Ryan will also executive produce on the project. Endeavor Content is the studio.

Apple’s SVOD service Apple TV+ is $4.99 per month.

‘Croods 2,’ ‘Wonder Woman 1984,’ ‘Greenland’ Lead TVOD Charts

Croods: A New Age, Greenland and Wonder Woman 1984, just released via PVOD Feb. 12, topped the transactional charts for the week.

Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age, available for non-PVOD transactional release Feb. 9, topped transactional revenue on FandangoNow for the past week, while tracking No. 2 and 3 on Apple TV and Google Play, respectively. The title also re-emerged atop the Presidents’ Day domestic weekend box office.

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STX’s Greenland, starring Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin (Deadpool), continues to track among the top three digital sellers, finishing No. 1 on Apple TV and Google Play and No. 3 on FandangoNow.

Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman 1984 tracked No. 2 on Google Play and FandangoNow and No. 5 on Apple TV. The title was released in theaters on Christmas Day, concurrently with a 31-day run for free to subscribers of HBO Max and just became available for PVOD as a $19.99 rental for 48 hours last week.

Lionsgate’s Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar, released on PVOD Feb. 12, came in at No. 3 on Apple TV, No. 5 on Google Play and No. 4 on FandangoNow.

Universal’s Let Him Go, which debuted on EST last month and stars Diane Lane and Kevin Costner, tracked at No. 4 on Apple TV, No. 6 on Google and No. 7 on FandangoNow.

Apple TV (week ended Feb. 15)

  1. Greenland (STX)
  2. The Croods: A New Age (Universal/DreamWorks Animation)
  3. Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar (Lionsgate)
  4. Let Him Go (Focus Features)
  5. Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner Bros.)
  6. Tenet (Warner)
  7. Freaky (Universal)
  8. Valentine’s Day (Warner)
  9. Love and Monsters (Paramount)
  10. The War with Grandpa (101 Studios)

Google Play (week ended Feb. 15)

  1. Greenland
  2. Wonder Woman 1984
  3. The Croods: A New Age 
  4. Tenet 
  5. Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar 
  6. Let Him Go 
  7. The War with Grandpa
  8. Honest Thief (Universal)
  9. Love and Monsters
  10. Freaky

FandangoNow (week ended Feb. 14)

  1. The Croods: A New Age
  2. Wonder Woman 1984
  3. Greenland
  4. Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar
  5. Willy’s Wonderland (Screen Media)
  6. News of the World (Universal)
  7. Let Him Go 
  8. Promising Young Woman (Universal)
  9. Freaky
  10. Fatale (Lionsgate)