What is free on Apple TV+?

There’s a lot of confusion out there about what you actually get if you sign up for an Apple TV+ subscription. Part of the confusion may stem from the fact that the content that comes with an Apple TV+ subscription resides inside Apple’s TV app, in which you can find lots of other content. Inside the Apple TV app some shows and movies are free to TV+ subscribers, but there are plenty that are not.

A person who searches in the Apple TV app for Barbie or Oppenheimer, for example, will see the option to buy or rent those movie. Think of this movie purchase as being like buying music from Apple’s iTunes Store rather than streaming it on Apple Music. It used to be that movies and TV shows could be bought or rented from the iTunes Store, now you can purchase or rent movies and shows from inside the Apple TV app (unlike music, which still has to be bought from the iTunes Store app if you don’t have an Apple Music subscription). We told you it was confusing.

An all too common misconception is that subscribing to Apple TV+ will give you access to all the content being presented in the TV app. Unfortunately, only certain shows and movies are available to Apple TV+ subscribers.

It’s not all bad though: the Apple TV app is a pretty handy way to search for content that is available on the various streaming services, so you can find out where the movie or TV show you want to watch is streaming, and if you have a subscription to that service (be it Netflix, Disney+, Prime or something else) you can watch the free content there.

In this article, we will explain exactly what is free if you subscribe to Apple TV+. You can subscribe to Apple TV+ on Apple’s website here, or via the Apple TV app on your device. Apple TV+ costs $8.99/£8.99 a month (until October 2022 it was $4.99/£4.99 a month and then it was $6.99/£6.99 a month until October 2023). You may not have to pay that much for Apple TV+ though, take a look at our tips for getting Apple TV+ for free. We also have tips to get Apple Music for free. If you are a student here’s how to get Apple Music for half price, which includes Apple TV+ for free!

What do you get with Apple TV+

Unlike Netflix, for example, Apple TV+ is made up only of shows that have been commissioned by and are exclusive to Apple. Apple doesn’t generally include shows and movies that have aired elsewhere. Everything is original.

When Apple launched Apple TV+ there were only a few shows including The Morning Show, See, and For All Mankind, but in the months and years that followed more and more shows were added such as Foundation, Monarch, Mythic Quest, Slow Horses, Ted Lasso, Trying, and more.

There are now more than 130 shows on Apple TV+ and more than 60 movies. We have an article that covers every single show on Apple TV+, along with all the shows (and movies) currently being made for Apple TV.

That’s a lot of stuff to watch, but when you consider the huge catalogs of content being offered by the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and so on, you can understand why people feel like they aren’t getting much for their money from Apple.

Where can I find what’s included with Apple TV+

If you have subscribed to Apple TV+ and want to locate the content that is free to you, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Apple TV app on your device.
  2. Click on the Apple TV+ tab.
  3. This will take you to the section of the Apple TV app where the subscription content resides.

On older operating systems you may have needed to access the Channels section before tapping on the Apple TV+ icon.

Free Apple TV+ shows

Apple has given away more free content in the past. In April 2020, during the Coronavirus pandemic Apple made some programs free to watch. Free shows included For All Mankind, Dickinson, wildlife doc The Elephant Queen, Little America, and M. Night Shyamalan’s Servant. That deal was in conjunction with HBO who also offered free content at that time.

Apple allows you to watch the first episode of many shows for free. There are at least 12 free episodes available to watch for free, including the premiere of Foundation, Monarch, The Morning Show, Ted Lasso, Lessons in Chemistry, Slow Horses and For All Mankind.


Apple sometimes makes certain shows free on a temporary basis. For example, every year Apple makes A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving free for Thanksgiving week and Charlie Brown’s Christmas is free during the Holiday period.

Free Apple TV+ movies

The company has also made a number of movies free to Apple TV+ subscribers for a limited time. For example, from the end of April to May 31, 2023, Apple made three movies available to Apple TV+ subscribers as an ‘Apple TV+ Bonus’. This included: True Lies, Romancing the Stone and Knight and Day.


Why do I have to pay to watch Apple TV?

If you are here reading this article because you have an Apple TV+ subscription and were wondering why you couldn’t watch something in the Apple TV app without paying you aren’t alone. A lot of people have this question. As we explained above, subscribers only have free access to the Apple TV+ content, not everything else you can see in the Apple TV app.

It’s no surprise that people make this mistake though, given that Apple’s TV app showcases movies and shows that you have to rent from Apple if you want to watch them. You can rent or buy movies this way, but with the wealth of content available from Apple’s competitors why would you want to?

Actually, the beauty of the TV app is the fact that if there is a movie you want to watch you can use the TV app to find out if it is available on any of the subscription services for free, and if it is, and you are a subscriber to that service, then you don’t need to pay to watch it.

If the movie or TV show you want to watch isn’t available for free anywhere else you might choose to rent or buy it from Apple. Alternatively, you might choose to download it from Amazon Prime, where you can find many of the same movies, though we find Apple often trumps Amazon for quality.

Apple showcases lots of content in the Apple TV app that isn’t free, no wonder people are confused.


What is free on Apple TV?

This question isn’t as simple to answer as it could be. Basically, the confusion is caused by Apple having three different products with the name Apple TV: the Apple TV hardware, the TV+ subscription and the TV app. We’ve already said it once, but seriously, it’s no wonder people are so confused.

In a nutshell, here’s what you can watch on the Apple TV or in the TV app on your iPhone, iPad or Mac:

  1. Shows you’ve purchased from Apple (either from the iTunes Store or inside the TV app).
  2. Movies purchased or rented from Apple.
  3. Content you have uploaded yourself.
  4. Content that is available in one of the Channels that reside in the Apple TV app. These are third-party streaming services you can subscribe to from within the Apple TV app, including Paramount+, MLS Season Pass and Friday Night Baseball.
  5. Content on the various subscription services you subscribe to including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+.
  6. Content from the free on-demand TV channels, such as Player, Channel 4, My5 and ITV+ in the U.K. Amazon Freevee, Tubi TV and Pluto TV in the U.S.
  7. Anything on Apple’s TV+ if you subscribe.

You can see exactly which services you can search in your location on Apple’s site here.

You can use the TV app to find where content is available so that you can decide to watch it in the relevant app on your device. Rather than try to sell you a movie from its own store, Apple tells you where you can watch it for free.

For example, if you search for the show or movie you want to watch and scroll down to the How to Watch section you can see whether it is available to watch for free in one of the services you have access to, or available to buy or rent.

The Apple TV app is available on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac.

Is Apple TV+ free if I buy an Apple TV box?

If you are buying an Apple TV set top box you might wonder (or assume) that Apple TV+ is included. It isn’t, but you can get a free three-month trial of Apple TV+ with your purchase. The same applies if it’s an iPhone, iPad or Mac you buy. More here: How to get Apple TV+ free.

Get three months Apple TV+ for free

If you want to buy an Apple TV these are the best prices right now:

The 2022 32GB version of the Apple TV 4K is sold by Apple for $129/£149.





The 2022 128GB version of the Apple TV 4K is sold by Apple for $149/£169.





Apple TV 3rd gen (2013) – SSD 8GB


Apple TV 4K 3rd gen (2021) – SSD 128GB


Source : Macworld