After nearly two years of programming deals and executive hires, Apple is now seemingly less than two weeks from unveiling its video streaming service.
The company alerted media to a March 25 event with the tag line “It’s show time” and an old film reel-style countdown.
According to a January report from The Information, Apple is eyeing a mid-April launch for its subscription streaming service. The report said that Apple will update its TV app and add support for the streaming service.
Last year, The New York Times reported that Apple’s original series could begin debuting as soon as March 2019. Apple is taking on Amazon, HBO, Hulu and Netflix with a reported $1 billion content budget. The company has lined up programming including a series about a morning TV show starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. Apple has also booked a series from “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle, an “Amazing Stories” reboot from Steven Spielberg and an animated series from the creator of Fox’s “Bob’s Burgers.”
In addition to its original content, Apple plans to offer subscription services from other programmers, not unlike what competitors like Amazon and Roku already offer. But reports have suggested that revenue splits and data sharing is still a sticking point between Apple and subscription services. CBS, Showtime, Starz and Viacom but HBO has still not reached an agreement with Apple, which is reportedly asking for a 30% cut on all subscribers who sign up for third-party services.
Apple has also been working on widening distribution for its original content. The company has an enormous amount of smartphones and tablets in the market but has a much smaller share of the connected TV market, where less expensive streaming TV boxes like Amazon Fire TV and Roku have dominated. Perhaps as a remedy to that, Apple has set deals with smart TV makers Samsung, Sony, LG and Vizio to enable AirPlay 2 support in their TVs and allow iPhone and iPad users to stream Apple content on their TV screens.
The latest reports suggest that Apple and Roku are close to a similar deal for AirPlay support in Roku devices.