Apple’s debut TV series, Planet of the Apps, kicks off

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After months of trailing a move into original TV content, Apple yesterday pushed play on the first episode of Planet of the Apps, which can now be watched online via iTunes if you’re a subscriber of the company’s streaming music service, Apple Music.

The 50-minute show combines a celebrity judging aesthetic familiar from the likes of The Voice, with entrepreneurs pitching their apps — a la Shark Tank.

Apple’s four judges for Planet of the Apps are: Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, Will.i.am and Gary Vaynerchuk, along with in-house host Zane Lowe.

While Lightspeed Venture Partners is the VC firm being looped in as a possible investor for entrepreneurs whose ideas impress.

App makers have 60 seconds to pitch their idea in front of the judges on a slow-moving escalator — for a visual twist on the idea of an ‘elevator pitch’.

Judges then have to vote on whether they want to hear the idea fleshed out in a bit more detail — after which they can vote on whether or not they would like to mentor the company for a chance to gain funding at the end of the show.

The first episode is billed as including an Air Force vet pitching an augmented reality app, two college friends with a public safety app idea, and an entrepreneur hoping to crowdsource a 3D model of the entire world.

For Apple several promotional threads are very obviously being looped together here, from the core push to apply (yet more) celebrity sparkle to the app ecosystem, generally, to raise public awareness and feed more ideas in; to the original content being hooked to Apple Music as a strategy to drive more subscribers to its streaming service.

Kicking off its WWDC conference on Monday, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said Apple Music now has 27 million subscribers — ergo, plenty of room for more growth there.

Apple says new episodes of Planet of the Apps will be released on Tuesdays, with the first series set to be 10 episodes long.

The first episode is also available here for a time for anyone to watch — although only in certain countries.