Apple wants to expand its reach from Silicon Valley to Hollywood. The tech giant is expected to launch a Netflix-like streaming service during its March 25 special event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California. The debut is a cornerstone of Apple’s new focus on broadening its subscription services businesses to compensate for the sometimes uneven hardware cycle.
For that reason, Apple has reportedly poured $1 billion into its own batch of original serial dramas, reality TV shows, and even a few films. A-list celebrities and top directors populate its new roster, which will run the gamut from comedies featuring stars like Steve Carell to a new suspense series directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
Aside from its in-house content, Apple will also attempt to acquire the rights to existing shows on separate TV networks and other streaming platforms like Hulu and Amazon Prime Video (some estimates indicate that something in the ballpark of a quarter of Netflix’s streams are thanks to re-runs in syndication, reported Recode last year).
The end goal is to give Apple hardware owners access to a one-stop-shop for all things digital media and entertainment. One Jefferies analyst predicted it’ll cost just $15 to gain access to the full library once it’s released. Particularly if Apple successfully inks a deal to include access to some premium channels as part of that package, that has the potential to be quite the bargain.
Most of the content Apple is producing, however, has remain veiled in mystery, but there have been a multitude of reports about the early discussions with talent and directors that could be featured on the streaming service. The first batch of shows will likely be announced on March 25, but even after Apple launches the platform there will still be more content to come.
Apple Streaming Service Channels
The streaming service will include plenty dramas to indulge viewers’ binge cravings, and it’ll also allow users to watch cable news channels, reported CNBC on February 3. Apple’s service will launch with a “media bundle” that’ll come with video streaming, Apple Music, and the Texture news app, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty.
A feature like this would be especially tantalizing to cable customers that want to cut their cable bill while still having access to major news networks. Huberty in particular seems confident that the bundle will include enough offerings to be a serious money-maker, predicting an extra 2 percentage points in annual services revenue growth per year from the media bundle alone through the year 2025.
Apple Streaming Service: Series
Based on the trickles that have leaked in the entertainment press, Apple seems primarily focused on producing serial programs, a lot like Netflix and Hulu. So far, at least 18 shows have either been sold or are already in production. Expect to hear more confirmed titles, as well as details about the attached stars, on March 25.
- TV Adaption of Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA: Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson will have a lead role in an adaptation of Amaryllis Fox’s film Undercover: Coming Of Age In The CIA, reported Variety.
- Potential action show with director-producer Justin Lin: Lin, who has delivered three drama series for CBS — including Scorpion and S.W.A.T. — signed a deal with Apple last December, reported Variety.
- A Peanuts Animated Series with Snoopy and Charlie Brown: Apple won the bid to begin producing new new Peanuts content last December, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
- Swagger: a biographical drama based 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 featuring Rupert Grint from the Harry Potter series.
- 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.
- Are You Sleeping: a thrilled-drama series starring Octavia Spencer.
- A docuseries titled 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.
Apple Streaming Service: Movies
Like Netflix, Apple is also taking the opportunity to break into the movie biz, and has also bought the rights to a number of films to complement the bevy of new of series. There aren’t as many confirmed titles yet, but there have been a few so far:
- Hala: Apple bought the rights to Jada Pinkett-Smith’s new coming-of-age film at this year’s Sundance Festival.
- On the Rocks: Apple is also producing a new film directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Bill Murray and Rashida Jones.
- Elephant Queen: A new documentary directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble that Apple acquired the rights to in September.
- Wolfwalkers: an animated film that Apple acquired the rights to in September as well.
It’s still early to say much about the rest of Apple’s film and TV roster. The company will likely launch the streaming service with a few big-name projects to whet the appetite of potential users. But as the year goes on the platform will continue to add new movies and series to its menu.
Watch out Netflix, Apple is stepping into your turf.