There has long been rumour of Apple starting its own video subscription service to challenge Netflix. Until recently, it had been lumped in the same speculative basket as Apple HDTVs and Apple self-driving cars.
Now, a report from CNBC has cast a spotlight on the rollout plan – which will apparently include HBO content and free original programming beamed directly to iOS devices.
According to the CNBC report, Apple will provide a new streaming service through the Apple TV app in early 2019. In addition to content produced by Apple (think Netflix Originals), US entertainment giants HBO and Starz are also said to be part of the deal.
It’s not clear if the deal is limited to legacy content, or would include current TV shows like Outlander, American Gods, Game Of Thrones and Westworld. Or it might involve paying subscription fees for multiple services which can then be accessed through the one app.
As part of the strategy, Apple will also offer free access to its original programming through the app. If the report can be believed, Apple will be focusing on PG-rated series suitable for family viewing; a move straight out of the Disney playbook.
You wont need to subscribe to the service to watch this content – as long as you have an iOS device with Apple TV installed, it will be provided free of charge. (We’re guessing that this will be limited to the first one or two episodes in a series – otherwise the pay-per-month service would lose most of its value.)
Apple is apparently betting big on the service, sinking $1 billion into original content this year alone (24 original shows are said to be in production and development.) The aim is to land one or more “tent pole” franchises to entice people to subscribe.
According to CNBC’s inside source, the service will launch in early 2019 to coincide with an update to the Apple TV app.
There’s no word on whether access will be provided to non-iOS users. An Android/smart TV streaming app seems a pretty safe bet, although Apple might want to keep things exclusive to boost its own hardware sales.
If Apple can find the next Stranger Things or Game Of Thrones, this service could have a real shot at supplanting Netflix in the lounge room – particularly if it provides access to the best content from rival streaming giants.
On the other hand, it could dilute quality content further across multiple competing platforms – Netflix, Foxtel, Stan, Amazon Prime Video and soon Disney and Apple.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on this one as it develops. More to come.