Apple reportedly planning global rollout for its streaming TV service next year

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Apple’s streaming television service, which is said to resemble Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, will launch in the first half of next year, according to a report today from The Information. The service, which may exist as a standalone app or within the existing TV app, will launch in the US first and become available in more than 100 countries after a few months of availability, the report says. It will feature a mix of original programming, access to third-party services, and the ability to subscribe directly to channel packages offered by network and cable providers, similar to Amazon’s Channels feature.

For years, Apple has been trying to crack streaming like it did digital media and smartphone apps. But due to complex licensing deals and media conglomerates’ tight control on pricing and bundling, the iPhone maker has been less successful than competitors like Amazon and Netflix, both of which have built strong ecosystems mixing licensed content and original programming. And although Apple has sold its own set-top box since 2006, the device has largely remained a conduit for other companies’ media, and it lags behind Amazon and Roku hardware in market share.

Apple appears ready to try and change that with the launch of its official streaming TV service, which will be free for iOS device owners and exist as the home interface of its Apple TV line, reports The Information. One snag is that Apple doesn’t appear willing to let the software exist outside its own hardware, which may limit its ability to expand. Both Amazon, through its Prime Video app, and Netflix exist as mobile apps, built-in native smart TV apps, and streaming set-top box apps. In the case of Amazon, which produces the Fire TV line, its software is the entire home interface on its devices. That means consumers have numerous access points to Prime Video and Netflix, while Apple will necessarily limit its own service’s reach.

Still, this mirrors Apple’s approach to many of its other hardware and software products, and it could prove to be irrelevant if the company’s free service gets millions of iOS and Apple TV users signing in. (Notably, Prime Video requires you pay Amazon’s $119 annual fee, while Netflix costs $7.99 a month.)

The obvious solution there is original programming, which Apple has reportedly set aside $1 billion for in 2018 alone. So far, Apple has put its original shows, like Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps, on Apple Music. But this new service would be home to a dizzying number of in-the-works projects that have been confirmed in the last couple of years. As my colleague Andrew Liptak put it, there’s a lot Apple is working on:

So far, Apple has signed a multiyear deal with Oprah Winfrey to develop new shows, ordered a pair of children’s shows from the creators of Sesame Street, a reboot of the science fiction anthology show Amazing Stories, a Hunger Games-style dystopian show called See, a series from La La Land director Damien Chazelle, a thriller series from M. Night Shyamalan, a space drama from Battlestar Galactica creator Ron Moore, a drama about a morning show starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, and an adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s classic science fiction novel Foundation. There are also reports that it’s working to acquire the rights for an animated film.

We have no idea if this programming will be any good. Considering it took years for Amazon and Netflix to find their footing in Hollywood and start turning out Emmy- and Oscar-winning projects, it could be a while before Apple attracts the same level of talent and creates a production environment where high-quality television and film can succeed. But Apple clearly has the money to spend and the desire to compete.

Fifteen years ago, iTunes dominated the digital media landscape as the place where you went to browse, purchase, and play music, TV, and movies on your computer and MP3 player. Despite the dominant position of the iPhone in the age of the smartphone, Apple missed the boat on streaming video and is still playing catch-up with Spotify on streaming music. With the launch of a successful TV service, however, the company could start making up for lost time.

Comments

I think they’re too late on this one, they should stick to hardware.

They might have something different up their sleeve vs the competition. A free service that’s a perk for buying one of their expensive gizmos? The start of the neutral aggregator service we all want?

It makes sense if they go global reasonably fast. Apple has a freer hand to move fast globally because like Netflix and Amazon – and unlike Disney and AT&T – they have no existing distribution business they are afraid of cannibalizing. Disney and AT&T will have a far slower global rollout as a result.

Apple is going to be interesting to watch, that’s for sure, and I don’t mean their shows. I can’t tell if they have some ingenious master plan or are just flailing around and experimenting. (The latter, as always, is most likely…)

With a free, high quality content package, Apple can easily be a global media heavyweight. They don’t need sex or violence to sell devices. People will buy Apple TVs and iPads to get free content and use the same devices to watch other third party paid services.

So far Apple has shown that they are pretty much useless when it comes to original content.

how are they too late? Netflix is a totally different system, not combining TV services etc, and there are billions of people still untouched when it comes to these services.

This is a joke right?

Apple’s service division is the fastest growing and bigger than Nexflix and Amazon web service combined. Stick to hardware?

I could understand Netflix but is it bigger than AWS? What?

https://www.recode.net/2017/5/3/15523268/apple-services-business-revenue-growth

That was a 2017 article but right now Apple Service is around 10 billion a quarter, AWS 7 billion and Netflix 3 billion revenue.

They were late to music streaming today too, and they are pretty massive lol

Unless I missed it, you didn’t point out that while the reach is limited to apple devices, it’s also free for those apple devices (as reported by other sites).

They’re making a Foundation series just for people who use their pricey gizmos? Wow, nice. I use their pricey gizmos except to watch shows on my smart TV. For that, I use Roku. Not on Roku? Deal killer.

That’s a good point, and I’ve updated the article to make that more clear. Thanks!

More than a billion active devices and free* content will almost instantly make Apple one of the biggest players in video streaming, if not the biggest.

*if you already paid for the hardware

Sure why wouldn’t you want to create an infrastructure that benefits from users needing to buy into your other products?

A company that wants you to use THEIR products? WHOA. Never heard of that one before.

Cool, whatever. Apple jumping in late again and following market trends. There will already be a dozen other streaming services for Apple to compete against and really with exception to a couple of show concepts, nothing really interest me to spend extra on their service.

Apple offering some of the content for free will be good, but I don’t expect things like Foundation or other potential hits to come for free, just shit like people lip-syncing in a car.

Generally when apple jumps in late, they become a staple. No one even remembers the first streaming sites like pandora. It’s Apple Music and Spotify.

When apple adopted the notch AND the headphone jack (for better or worse) Every company seemed to follow suit.

I hope apple does well. Mostly because when companies do really well it forces others to do better.

So the only way to watch Apple content on a TV is if if you own an Apple TV? I don’t know how anyone can possibly support this strategy. Especially the people who lambasted Amazon for not releasing a Prime Video app for Apple TV for the longest time.

If I can’t access their content from my Xbox, then this is a no sell. Just let me pay you for your service like I do with Apple Music instead of having these arbitrary barriers of entry in place.

What’s wrong with this strategy unless if they have a monopoly in streaming device market? Google gives you free apps if you share your data with them. Amazon gives you free content if you buy their Prime service. Apple may give you free content if you buy an Apple TV. How is it any different from them giving free apps with their devices?

I don’t care if they offer the content to Apple device users for free. My complaint is that there’s no other option, even if you want to pay. Why do you want their content to be exclusive to Apple devices?

This is a good move to play catch up. The Market for Subscriptions is saturated enough. I would tweak the strategy and offer an "Apple App" for Roku and Android. Subscribe to Apple Music, get all your music and video content on a non-Apple device. As an early partaker of iTunes TV Shows I would love for my paid content to show up on non Apple Devices.

I would have gotten an Apple TV a long time ago but they still don’t support youtube or twitch which is most of my content. I don’t do cable really

Why would this be free? That makes zero sense. Apple is all about margins. There are no margins on free.

Apple music isn’t free for Apple device owners. Apple gouges iOS owners on the price of iCloud storage.

Why would anyone assume this service would be free for iDevice owners?

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