Apple's Streaming Service: Release Date, Price, New Shows, and Rumors

The Netflix for Apple power users.

With new products dropping left and right in the build-up to its March 25 Special Event, the stage will soon be clear to devote the lion’s share of the presentation to its new streaming service, set to launch as soon as April.

Several shows have already wrapped production, according to a recent New York Times report. But details have also been scarce, so much so that a potential clash may be brewing between the secretive tech titan and the gossipy Hollywood types who are not typically used to being left in the dark.

Also interesting: Apple is taking a much more heavy-handed approach to protecting its brand than studios and show-runners are used to, proscribing content that could be seen as not only too sex-filled or violent; but also story lines that are deemed as potentially too political.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the director M. Night Shyamalan was even asked to remove crucifixes from a set in the thriller he is developing. This makes some sense. All an angry Netflix subscriber can do is unsubscribe. An Apple boycott, on the other hand, would take a toll: Each unsold iPhone, after all, is as much as an $800 hit to profits, based on a teardown of the iPhone XS Max.

Which of course all begs the question: Does Apple have the stomach for the entertainment business? We’ll know a lot more by next week.

Smart TV
This could change the Apple TV platform for good.

Apple TV Streaming: Launch and Release Dates

Invites for the event went out on March 11. As is usually the case, the announcements will go down at the Steve Jobs Theater on March 25 beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern. In addition to the new streaming service, Apple is also said to be introducing a new paid news service, but based on the not so subtle “It’s show time” hint on the invite it’ll be an entertainment-focused event. Expect a lot of trailers.

It’s still unclear exactly when the service will become available, but going off of past product announcement and release cycles, it will likely be at least a month or two after the March event (so possible in late April or May, at the earliest). This aligns with a New York Times report that Apple was eyeing a mid-to-late spring timeframe to let users begin watching shows on its service.

Apple TV Streaming: How Would It Work?

It’s not yet clear whether Apple’s streaming site will launch as its own standalone service, or whether it will take the form of a re-vamped iTV app that is already available on the Apple TV, iPhones and iPads. Both CNBC and Bloomberg have reported that it may actually be somewhere in the middle: A substantially re-vamped version of the TV app that makes it barely recognizable.

Currently, the TV app redirects users to other subscription services like Now TV. Once Apple has its own streaming set-up in-house, users will very likely be encouraged to stick around to enjoy Apple’s own programming. Content like newscasts, movies, and series could soon live on the TV app instead of on third-party software. This also means that Apple users will have access to video content as soon as their devices come out of the box.

Apple is also said to be planning discounts or free content for users as a means to incentivize new hardware purchases.

netflix
Netflix, Apple is coming for you.

Apple TV Streaming: Subscription Cost?

A final subscription cost hasn’t been revealed, either. But some analyst estimates have indicated that Apple’s streaming service could be notably more expensive than the cheapest Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video subscriptions, which are all roughly $8 per month.

Jefferies analyst Tim O’Shea predicted that a subscription will cost $15 per month, according to a February 19 9to5Mac report. The kicker, however, is whether that price includes the free content already made available to Apple device owners.

The CNBC report stated that iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs will all come loaded with free, Apple-owned content, suggesting this perk will be limited to the content it produces in house. Accessing subscriptions channels and other online-only services is probably what the $15 fee is referring to.

Apple TV Streaming: What Third-Party Services Will Be Available?

The fledgling service is also trying to recruit several of the other established platforms with their own content like Netflix, HBO, and Amazon Prime Video to get on board for its “Channels” option, according to CNBC. Apple’s idea is to make the service a subscription platform for existing services where users can watch, say, Game of Thrones if they’re subscribed to HBO already. But that pitch doesn’t seem to be landing.

Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Amazon Prime Video have reportedly not agreed. That leaves Apple trying to woo big TV networks. But with the big TV networks working on streaming platforms of their own — most recently NBC, Apple may have trouble recruiting partners.

Talks seem to have been rocky. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings confirmed taking his company out of the running during a Monday media event reported by Recode, saying that “we want to have people watch our shows on our services.” It is hard to see why, say, Hulu or Amazon Prime would feel all that differently.

On the other hand, AT&T (who owns HBO), CBS, and Lionsgate (which owns Starz) are expected to make deals.

game of thrones
Could Apple make its own Game of Thrones, like series?

Apple TV Streaming: What Original Content Will Be Featured?

With $1 billion in-hand, Apple obviously has plenty of cash to pull in whatever big names it thinks it needs to ensure the service makes a splash. That said, the company’s first foray into content production was underwhelming, at least in they were in the case of widely-mocked *Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke. That said, most of the shows in the pipeline seem just a touch more ambitious.

Apple hired former Sony Pictures Televisions presidents Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg to lead the push on its original programming. These two new executives have stepped up the caliber of content Apple will be releasing in the near future:

  • Swagger, a biographical drama on NBA all-star Kevin Durant’s youth.
  • An untitled drama series from La La Land writer-director Damien Chazelle.
  • Central Park, an animated show from the creator of Bob’s Burgers.
  • An untitled series from M. Night Shyamalan.
  • An untitled morning show drama series starring Steve Carell, Reese Witherspoon, and Jennifer Aniston (which we take to mean a drama series about characters working on a morning show).
  • A reboot of Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi and horror anthology Amazing Stories.
  • An untitled Ronald D. Moore space drama series.
  • A thriller-drama series called Are You Sleeping starring Octavia Spencer.
  • A docuseries called Home from executive producers Matt Tyrnauer and Corey Reeser.
  • An untitled comedy series starring Kristen Wiig.
  • Defending Jacobs, a drama series produced by and starring Chris Evans.
  • An untitled comedy series written by Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
  • Foundation, a series based on novels by sci-fi author Isaac Asimov.
  • An untitled mystery series created by Dana Fox and Dara Resnik.
  • Little Voice, a romantic comedy by JJ Abrams, Jessie Nelson, and Sara Bareilles.