Update 2/11/2019: Samsung now says its 2019 QLED TVs are now available to purchase or pre-order. The upcoming iTunes app and AirPlay 2 feature will be available in a future update to compatible 2019 and 2018 TVs.

Apple and Samsung today announced a partnership to put iTunes TV shows and movies onto Samsung Smart TVs from the spring. The iTunes video content will be exposed through a special app that sits alongside existing apps like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube.

The TVs will also become AirPlay 2 receivers, marking the first official AirPlay integration for third parties. The features will launch on 2019 Samsung Smart TVs and most 2018 Samsung Smart TVs through a software update.

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The features offered by the Apple partnership will mean that the service offering on Samsung Smart TVs mirrors what you can get with an Apple TV set-top box.

Samsung users will be able to view, buy and rent the entire iTunes movies and TV shows — in resolutions up to 4K. Apple’s content will integrate with Samsung TV features like universal search and the Bixby voice assistant.

AirPlay 2 integration enables iOS users to beam videos, photos and music to their Smart TV without needing an Apple TV connected. Videos can only be streamed to one device at a time, but the TVs will be able to participate in multi-room audio.

Apple SVP Eddy Cue celebrated the announcement in a press statement today:

“We look forward to bringing the iTunes and AirPlay 2 experience to even more customers around the world through Samsung Smart TVs, so iPhone, iPad and Mac users have yet another way to enjoy all their favorite content on the biggest screen in their home,” said Eddy Cue, senior vice president of Internet Software and Services at Apple.

The features should start rolling out in the spring. It’s interesting that the app is branded as ‘iTunes Movies and TV Shows’. Apple is widely expected to announce an original content subscription TV service later in the year, which is not expected to bear the iTunes name.
Time will tell if the Samsung partnership will ultimately act as another distribution method for the new Apple original content TV service.
Update 2/11/2019: From Samsung’s latest press release:

As announced at CES 2019, Samsung will take the user experience to the next level by offering iTunes Movies and TV Shows and Apple AirPlay 2 support on 2019 Samsung Smart TV models. Support on 2018 Samsung Smart TVs will be made available via firmware update. In an industry first, a new iTunes Movies and TV Shows app will debut on Samsung Smart TVs in more than 100 countries. AirPlay 2 support will be available soon on Samsung Smart TVs in 190 countries worldwide.

With the new iTunes Movies and TV Shows app on Samsung Smart TVs, Samsung customers can access their existing iTunes library and browse the iTunes Store to buy or rent from a selection of hundreds of thousands of movies and TV episodes — including the largest selection of 4K HDR movies. iTunes Movies and TV Shows will work seamlessly with Samsung’s Smart TV Services, such as Universal Guide, the New Bixby and Search, to create a consistent experience across Samsung’s platform. With AirPlay 2 support, Samsung customers will be able to effortlessly play videos, photos, music, podcasts and more from Apple devices directly to Samsung Smart TVs, including QLED 4K and 8K TVs, The Frame and Serif lifestyle TVs, as well as other Samsung UHD and HD models.

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