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- > Background to Apple's streaming service plans
Are Netflix and Amazon's offerings enough for you, or are your evenings still empty and in need of entertainment? Apple is gearing up to take on Netflix, Amazon and UK services such as Now TV with its own TV shows and movies that will be available to watch on the Apple TV, iPhone and iPad.
Apple is apparently spending billions making its own TV shows for distribution via the Apple TV, iPhone and iPad. There have been multiple reports about the new shows in the works at Apple, with various high-profile stars, directors, writers and producers, so it is no secret that the company is hard at work producing content. The big question is when will Apple start to broadcast its new TV shows, and will it be charging a subscription or giving the content away for free?
In this article we will cover all the rumours and revelations about of Apple's plans for its streaming service, including who Apple is working with, what shows are being made, where you will be able to watch Apple's TV shows, how much the Apple TV streaming service will cost, and when Apple's streaming service will launch.
We have information about all of Apple's new shows below, including a series from La La Land director and writer Damien Chazelle, news that Apple has signed up a show by Bob's Burgers creator staring Frozen's Kristen Bell and Josh Gad, and a show by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon who co-wrote The Big Sick.
Apple is also reported to be planning to offer movies two- to three weeks after cinema release, in a move that could threaten cinema chains. Find out more below.
We heard nothing about the upcoming streaming service during the 30 October event, but it seems Apple is not quite ready with it yet.
A New York Times report back in March 2018 suggested that Apple is targeting a March 2019 release date for the new service that we will detail below.
A CNBC report October 2018 suggests that Apple plans to debut the service as part of a revamped TV app early next year, according to CNBC sources.
Apple's Streaming Service plans
Apple wants to produce its own TV content and it is spending a lot of money on the project. The company is said to have plans to spend $4.2bn on original programming by 2022, including $1bn in 2018, as per this Variety report.
This budget is still smaller than Netflix's $6.8bn, and Amazon is expected to spend up to $8.3bn on original content, according to this Guardian report from April 2018, but Apple certainly mean's business - or should we say, Show Business.
The money is certainly being spent - with frequent reports of new shows being snapped up by Apple, and news of new hires joining Apple's new team to TV and film execs.
Apple's Eddy Cue has been building a video team for some time. The video team is based in Los Angeles and is lead by two ex-Sony Pictures execs Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who have shows such as Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul under their belt, have worked at Sony for 15 years (Amburg) and 20 years (Erlicht).
When he was given the job in June 2017, Erlicht said: "It will be an honor to be part of the Apple team. We want to bring to video what Apple has been so successful with in their other services and consumer products - unparalleled quality," according to a report on Deadline Hollywood.
In September 2017 Matt Cherniss, president of US TV broadcasting company WGN, joined the team. He was behind shows such as Manhattan and Salem and has previously worked for Sony, Warner Bros. Pictures and Fox.
And in late October 2017 Apple added the former controller of BBC One and chief creative officer of Channel 4, Jay Hunt, to its team of creatives working on video content. Hunt was behind shows like Sherlock, Luther, and then helped Channel 4 buy The Great British Bake Off. In her new role at Apple she will be creative director Europe, worldwide video. It is thought that she will be commissioning programming on behalf of Apple for Europe and the UK market.
In February 2018 Apple hired Gaumont Television executive Carol Trussell as Head of Production at its Worldwide Video Programming division. When at Gaumont, Trussell was responsible for Narcos and Hannibal amongst other shows. She was previously a producer for HBO's True Blood
Apple also hired The Paramount Network's Dana Tuinier as creative executive for comedy. Before Paramount, Tuinier worked at Fox on shows including New Girl, Almost Human and Glee.
A July 2018 TBI Vision reported that Apple had hired head of BBC Films Joe Oppenheimer to join the international team. Oppenheimer will be tasked with sourcing programming internationally, according to TBI Vision. His film credits include I, Daniel Blake and Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.
Apple is also working with a star studdied list of performers, directors and producers for its shows, which we have details of below.
Wondering what shows the team at Apple is making? The company has been unable to keep rumours and snippets of information getting out about its plans here, so we already know about quite a few of the shows the company is working on. With so much information about the shows that are coming from Apple, there can be no doubt that the company intends to extend its own offering beyond iTunes rentals very soon.
And it's not skimping. Apple is said to have budgeted at least $1bn in 2018 for buying and producing its own video content in a bid to compete with Netflix and Amazon, according to reports.
The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg claim that the investment could translate to 10 new shows, but there are more than 10 shows listed below.
According to Apple senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, speaking at the South by Southwest conference in March 2018, Apple plans is to produce a small number of quality shows rather than focus on quantity.
Don't expect to see anything like Game of Thrones coming from Apple's studios though. Apparently the company isn't looking for sex or violence. According to Bloomberg: "Apple wants comedies and emotional dramas with broad appeal, such as the NBC hit 'This Is Us', and family shows like 'Amazing Stories.'"
Top executives don't want kids "catching a stray nipple," the report claims.
A Wall Street Journal report also suggests that Apple's content will be PG-rated, with Apple steering clear of violent content. In fact, Tim Cook has already put a hold on a semi-biopic drama about hip hop artist Dr. Dre called Vital Signs, deciding it wasn’t right for Apple, after discovering the show included “characters doing lines of cocaine, an extended orgy in a mansion and drawn guns” according to Wall Street Journal. Cook apparently told Jimmy Iovine that the show was too violent.
Apple wants high-quality shows with big names and wide appeal, but it doesn't want gratuitous sex, profanity or violence, the WSJ said.
Apple has already made two shows, Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps, which have been distributed via the £9.99 a month Apple Music subscription service and haven't been particularly popular (we have more information about those shows below). The new TV shows that Apple has in the pipeline are in a different league to Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps though.
Here are details of some of the new shows that Apple is working on:
This will be Apple’s first International series, an English language adaption of French series Calls. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Calls "takes storytelling innovation to the next level, allowing audiences to experience short stories through real-life audio sources and minimal visuals."
This is a sci-fi drama in a future where all humans are blind - except for a pair of twins. It will star Jason Momoa (of Aquaman and Game of Thrones) and comes from Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight and The Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence.
Apple has bought an adaptation of the Terry Gilliam's 1981 film Time Bandits. It's the story of six dwarves on the run from the Supreme Being. Gilliam will reportedly be a "non-writing executive partner,” according to Deadline.
Unnamed video game studio comedy
This comedy is coming from Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day and is set in a video game development studio. Apparently the show will will explore the intricacies of the human condition through hilarious and innovative ways, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Apple has signed up Oprah Winfrey to create original programmes for it. The multiyear deal will see Winfrey create “original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world,” according to a statement from Apple.
Cartoon Saloon animated film
Apple is seeking to acquire animation rights to movie from Academy Award-nominee Cartoon Saloon, according to Bloomberg.
The company is negotiating with Cartoon Saloon - the studio behind Secret of Kells, The Breadwinner and Song of the Sea. The animation Apple is seeking the rights for hasn’t yet been made.
Apple will have to release the film to cinemas prior to making it available for download in order for it to qualify for an Academy Award.
Ed Sheeran documentary Songwriter
Apple is said to be making a documentary about singer Ed Sheeran.
The documentary will be directed by Sheeran's cousin Murray Cummings.
Apparently the documentary will be released in the cinema as well as on Apple’s own platforms (via Deadline).
Apple has a deal with Sesame Workshop for children’s programming.
Based on Gregory David Roberts' 2003 novel, which is based on Roberts' life. The main characterising is a convict who flees an Australian prison for Bombay where he meets gangsters and criminals.
Little Voices is described as a dramedy, with characters attempting to find their “authentic voice”. It will be produced by J.J. Abrams and Sara Bareilles.
Hailee Steinfeld (of Pitch Perfect 2, Enders Game and Edge of Seventeen), will star in Dickinson - a series about poet Emily Dickinson.
This one is being co-written by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon who wrote The Big Sick. It's about American immigrants and will be produced by Master of None co-creator/executive producer Alan Yang.
M. Night Shyamalan show
All we know is that a psychological thriller written by Tony Basgallop is in the works and that the first episode will be directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
Isaac Asimov's Foundation
Apple has landed a TV adaptation of Isaac Asimov's science fiction novel trilogy Foundation.
According to a Deadline report, the project from Skydance Television will be produced by David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman as well as Skydance's David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross.
Goyer's credits include The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Ghost Rider, and more. He also co-wrote the upcoming Terminator reboot.
Friedman's credits include Avatar 2, the War of the Worlds remake and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Top of the Morning
Apple has also bought a new drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.
The company beat others in a bidding war for the two-season show, based on the book Top of the Morning. Ellenberg's book looked at the lives of morning TV presenters.
Aniston and Witherspoon are co-owners and executive producers along with Michael Ellenberg's Media Res company, which will produce the show. The series was to be written and executive produced by Jay Carson (who was behind House of Cards).
However, there's already been a bit of drama regarding this show. The creator Jay Carson has left the project due to "creative differences" according to Variety. That site suggests that Apple may be closing a deal with Kerry Ehrin to head up the project in Carson's absence. Ehrin was creator, executive producer and showrunner for Bates Motel.
Apparently Apple has also voiced concerns about the humour of the script, according to a Wall Street Journal report in September 2018.
This will be an animated musical comedy series staring Kristen Bell and Josh Gad (who last worked together on Frozen), as well as Hamilton's Leslie Odom Jr and Daveed Diggs, Tituss Burgess from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Transparent actress Kathryn Hahn and Academy Award nominee Stanley Tucci, according to Digital Spy.
The series is based on a family of Central Park caretakers who have to save the world.
It's from the creator of Bob's Burgers, Loren Bouchard and is being co-written with Josh Gad and Nora Smith. Apple is committed to 26 episodes over two seasons.
Swagger is a drama series based on the life of Kevin Durant, a Basketball player. It will be written and directed by Reggie Rock Bythewood who wrote Notorious B.I.G. biopic Notorious.
La La Land's Damien Chazelle has been signed up by Apple to write and direct a drama series for Apple.
House of Cards studio MRC is also involved with the show.
Untitled: 'You Think It, I'll Say It'
This Reese Witherspoon-produced show was supposed to star Kristen Wiig but Wiig has laft the show and it is currently on hold. The comedy series is based on Curtis Sittenfeld's short story collection titled You Think It, I'll Say It
Untitled: 'Space drama'
As yet unnamed, this drama comes from Star Trek veteran Ronald D. Moore.
This crime drama, based on a novel by Kathleen Barber, sees a murder case reopened after a Serial-style podcast publicises it.
The series is being written by Nichelle Tramble Spellman, who also wrote The Good Wife.
Reese Witherspoon's production company, Hello Sunshine, is co-producing it for Apple.
Apple has also bought Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories, which was being executive produced by Spielberg in partnership with Bryan Fuller, however, Fuller departed the show in February 2018.
Apparently that drama will transport the audience to worlds of wonder through the lens of today's most imaginative filmmakers, directors and writers.
In May 2018 it was revealed that 'Once Upon A Time' co-creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis would be the executive producers on the show.
It's thought that Fuller's ideas for the show weren't family friendly enough for Apple, according to a Variety report.
An article in the Daily Telegraph suggested that Apple is in discussions with mobile network EE (which is part of BT) regarding a deal that could see EE distributing Apple TV set-top boxes to its customers.
Should the deal go ahead, EE customers might be able to watch the BT Sport channel via the Apple TV.
As mentioned above, Apple is hoping to secure a deal with animation studio Cartoon Saloon - the award-nominated studio behind “Secret of Kells,” The Breadwinner” and “Song of the Sea.”
This isn't the only movie related ambition for Apple. Movie studios are said to be working with Apple on plans to release movies for rental just two or three weeks after cinema release, according to an August 2017 Bloomberg report.
Apparently these PVOD (premium video on demand) rentals would be available to download months before they hit services like Netflix and Now TV, but they would have a higher price than Apple's usual rental deals. According to the Bloomberg report, if rented from iTunes the movies could cost between $30-$50, while the average price of a cinema ticket is $8.84. ($30 is about £24).
It's normal for digital rentals of movies to be available around three months after cinema release.
This move could be a threat to cinema chains, although the high price of the iTunes rentals is likely to put most customers off - although the price of taking a family of four to the cinema might turn out to be higher than the rental price of the movie.
This isn't clear how the content will be made available, but there are a few possibilties. For example, Loop analyst Gene Munster (the one who kept saying Apple was planning to launch an actual TV) has predicted that Apple will rebrand Apple Music within the next two or three years, launching the new content under that banner, reports Variety.
In a 22 November 2017 research note Munster wrote: "Apple should be able to quickly expand their sub base given they have a running start with just over 30 million Apple Music subs that will have access to the video offering for the same $10 per month."
It seems more likely that the content will be bundled up inside the TV app that is available on the Apple TV, iPhone and iPad - and may soon be available on the Mac now that Apple is making it easier to port apps from iOS to MacOS.
Apple's TV app is the closest Apple has come to offering customers all the shows and movies they might want to watch in one place. It pulls the information about all the content from all the different subscription and on-demand services and apps you might have on the Apple TV and your other Apple devices into one place so that you can make a choice about what you want to watch without having to look through all the different apps (although once you make that choice, you will be transferred to the other app to watch the content.)
It seems likely that Apple plans to release its first few content projects to everyone with an Apple device via its TV app.
A Bloomberg report in May 2018 suggested that Apple could change the way its TV app works to accommodate this. Currently the TV app, which is found on iPhones, iPads and the Apple TV, is able to direct users to subscription content, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Now TV, but you cannot actually subscribe or watch the content through the Apple TV app. It looks like this is set to change, with Apple's TV app being able to play the content without kicking you out into a separate app to consume it.
The Bloomberg story suggests that the updated TV app could be available in 2019, and that with the new functionality, Apple could be opening the TV app up to allow its own content to be streamed.
The Apple TV app launched in the UK in December. At launch it offers content from My5, ITV Hub, iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video. Netflix was later added to the offering. Read about how to use the TV app on iPhone or iPad here and how to use the TV app on Apple TV here.
Because people are used to paying a subscription for services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, many are wondering even now how much Apple TV costs a month.
Apple currently has an extensive library of movie and TV shows available via iTunes, but rather than being available on a subscription basis, as with Netflix and Amazon, you can only choose to rent of buy movies, or buy individual episodes or series passes for TV content.
This is expected to change when Apple starts to distribute its own content.
How much Apple will charge remains to be seen, but there are reports that the content could be given away for free by the company.
According to CNBC sources, Apple will give away the content for free on Apple TV, iPhone and iPad via the TV app.
According to the CNBC report from 10 October 2018, Apple’s new digital video service will offer its own content along with content from other subscription services, according to people familiar with the matter.
Even if Apple does charge a subscription for the service, it is thought it will undercut its competition. In June 2018 a Recode report noted that a TV executive had revealed that Apple "intends to sell a standalone subscription to its original video shows, priced below Netflix".
That same report suggests that Apple will bundle all of its content into one subscription service that could include Apple Music and AppleCare.
That Recode report in June 2018 also suggested that Apple may offer the content for free via the TV app.
Also in June 2018, RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani said that he believes that original TV content has the potential to accelerate Apple Music's paid subscriber growth to 100 million-plus users in the next three years.
Daryanani believes that adding original video content to the Apple Music subscription service could be a "meaningful" driver of revenue over the next few years.
One thing is clear, Apple is unlikely to offer a commercial-based model in order to cut the subscription cost to consumers. Speaking at Recode in February 2017, Apple's Eddy Cue said of such models: "I'm not saying we'll never do it.. I don't think it's the direction we should be going. I don't think that's what our customers are asking for."
According to another June 2018 report (in The Information), Apple plans to offer more than TV and films as part of this subscription. The company will offer a “a single subscription offering including original TV shows, music service and magazine articles”, according to that article.
The Information sources claim that Apple will first launch a digital news subscription service which will combine the Apple News app with the digital magazine subscription service acquired in March. Apple will then start to bundle this digital news subscription offering some video content (including the content it’s already offering under the Apple Music banner), although it’s not known when that will happen.
The following programmes are already available via Apple's streaming service - as part of an Apple Music subscription. These shows could be seen as Apple's attempt to test our the contept, as it did many years ago when the Motorola Razr launched with iTunes included, way before the iPhone.
A popular spot on CBS's The Late Late Show, Carpool Karaoke is available to stream via Apple Music - though not all will star original host James Corden, the majority will instead feature a variety of celebrity pairings.
The show premiered in August 2017. You will need an Apple Music subscription in order to watch the episodes.
Bloomberg revealed that the release of the show was delayed due to "Foul language and references to vaginal hygiene," that had to be removed from some episodes
If you have signed up for Apple Music, or if you sign up for the free three-month trial, you can watch Carpool Karaoke here.
Planet of the Apps
Hosted by Will.i.am this is a sort of Dragon's Den for App developers. It features celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba mentoring app developers. App developers have the length of an escalator ride to pitch their apps.
Planet of the Apps is also available on Apple Music - you can watch it here.
Unfortunately, the show didn't impress. according to Variety's Maureen Ryan it was a: "Bland, tepid, barely competent knock-off of Shark Tank.
When will I be able to watch Apple's TV shows in the UK?
iTunes tends to be region specific so it is possible that there may be a delay in content being available in the UK, and some content may never be made available in the UK. However in terms of the Apple Music shows those programmes were available in the UK at the same time as they went live in the US, so that may be the case with at least some of the content available on Apple's Movie & TV streaming service.
Background to Apple's streaming service plans
There have been rumours for years that Apple planned to work with the networks to distribute content via its own streaming service. Here is a rundown of the various rumours that have emerged, as well as some of the hurdles Apple is said to have encountered along the way.
Why has it taken Apple so long to offer a streaming service?
Back in 2015 Apple was said to be negotiating deals with networks. At the time, ESPN's boss John Skipper confirmed that he was working on a deal with Apple for its rumoured streaming service, but revealed that Apple was having more trouble convincing other networks to join in.
However, it appears Apple hit a bit of a brick wall with the negotiations because by August 2015 talks with CBS, Fox, and NBC were said to have stalled. And then, in December 2015 it was claimed that Apple was putting its plans for the streaming service on hold because the cable companies and networks were proving too resistant to the idea.
By February 2016 CBS CEO Les Moonves had confirmed that talks with Apple had stopped following months of conversations with content providers: "We had conversations awhile back, and we haven't had recent conversations with them," Moonves said.
Why did Apple fail to come to an agreement in these negotiations? One report claimed that Apple was looking to collect a 30% fee from all subscriptions and the network operators weren't happy about this.
Having failed to negotiate content deals will Apple instead seek to acquire companies that have content available for distribution? There are claims that the company could buy Disney, for example, more on that below.
For now the company seems to be distancing itself from the idea. Speaking at Recode, Apple's Eddy Cue said that Apple isn't "trying to buy a bunch of shows," indicating that Apple isn't planning to make any content acquisitions, and back in June 2016 Apple's Eddy Cue said that Apple wasn't interested in becoming a Netflix competitor.
Is Apple going to launch a television?
The short answer: no. Rumours that Apple would launch a TV were circulating for some time, spurred by the fact that Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs seemed to hint in his biography that he intended to reinvent television. This spurred a long-running rumour that Apple would launch an actual television set.
Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson: "I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use… It will have the simplest use interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."
Apple CEO Tim Cook seemed to share Jobs' TV dreams. Over the years he has suggested both that the TV experience needed to be bought up to date, and that Apple might revolutionise television. He stated back in September 2014: "Think how much your life has changed, and all the things around you that have changed, and yet TV, when you go into the living room to watch TV or wherever it may be, it almost feels like you're rewinding the clock and you've entered a time capsule and you're going backwards. The interface is terrible, I mean it's awful. You watch things when they come on unless you remember to record them."
Analyst Gene Munster was probably the most vocal in his predictions that Apple would launch an actual TV, he may even have been correct, as there were reports that Apple did have a team working on an actual TV, but it appears that the company eventually ditched the idea.
Instead of launching an actual television, the company launched Apple's tvOS and the re-imagined Apple TV in 2016, both of which could be seen as the culmination of Steve Jobs vision for TV. However, those who were hoping for the reinvention of television, with a fancy TV set and a Netflix-style streaming service were disappointed.
Read our review of the 2015 Apple TV here.
One rumour that's been doing the rounds for some time, is that Apple could buy Netflix. However, Apple's Eddy Cue has quashed that rumour by saying that Apple isn't looking to buy a content company: "We might be better buying somebody or doing that, but that's not what we're trying to do," Cue said at the Recode conference in February 2017.
Cue reiterated this at the South by Southwest conference in March 2018, saying that Apple isn't going to buy Netflix or Disney, instead Apple will make its own original content.
One reason for the rumours that Apple could buy the likes of Netflix is the fact that due to US tax reforms it should now be easier (and less expensive) for Apple to repatriate its $200+ billion dollars held overseas back to the US - and that could pave the way for some big spending on acquisition.
Will Apple buy Netflix? We think it's unlikely given Apple's recent spending to create its own team of executives to develop shows for its platform. But, given Netflix's 115 million subscribers and it's excellent collection of shows and movies, it would certainly be an attractive buy. Not to mention the fact that buying Netflix would keep it out of the hands of Amazon, Google and Apple's other competitors.
Apple CEO Tim Cook and senior vice president Eddy Cue have been talking with TV and film producers in Hollywood.
The New York Post source told the paper that Apple "Is looking for a transformative acquisition and not just a deal to buy TV shows".
The Apple execs have met with execs Paramount Pictures and with Sony TV and film.
The outcome of discussion with Sony execs might be the eventual hiring of Sony execs Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who have shows such as Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul under their belt. These ex-Sony Pictures execs will help Apple with its programming plans.
Could Apple buy Disney?
Apple could probably buy a whole country if it wanted to, it has so much money in the bank. As to whether it might buy Disney, there are reasons to think that such a deal wouldn't be completely surprising: to do so would bring content, excellent co-branding potential, and a 30% share of Hulu.
There is also the fact that Steve Jobs was Disney's biggest shareholder following his sale of Pixar to the company, and the fact that Disney CEO Bob Iger sits on Apple's board.
With all that in mind, it's hardly surprising that the rumour has been circulating.
However, Apple's Eddy Cue has said that Apple is not going to buy Disney, putting pay to any rumours that Apple could be interested in the Mickey Mouse house.
Could Apple buy HBO? Time Warner?
There was a rumour that Apple was considering buying HBO, the home of Game of Thrones as part of an acquisition deal with Time Warner.
Back in early 2016 a New York Post report even claimed that Apple might even buy Time Warner, Inc. That purchase would include HBO, CNN, HLN, TNT, TBS and the Cartoon Network. However, no such deal emerged.