Apple’s Streaming Service to Rival Netflix Expected to Arrive This Spring

Apple TV app on iPhone and iPad Credit: Apple
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It’s no secret that Apple has been laying the groundwork for a streaming video service for a few years now, and while the company has an awkward phase of trying to find its direction, it finally got serious in 2017 when it brought on two veteran Sony execs to head up its new worldwide video division.

It wasn’t long after that landmark hiring that Apple began to get serious about bidding on rights to everything from an original drama series to groundbreaking sci-fi epics, and just about everything in between. The company also continued to expand its worldwide video content team and scout out studio locations. Despite this flurry of activity, however, details on Apple’s actual consumer-facing plans for the service remained somewhat sparse — it was apparent that the company planned to produce a lot of different content, but it was far less clear exactly how that was going to be delivered to subscribers.

Now, a new report from The Information reveals that the launch of Apple’s new streaming video service may in fact be right around the corner.

In an exclusive article discussing Amazon’s slow retreat from its former ambitions, The Information notes that Apple has been telling its entertainment company partners to be ready for a launch mid-April, although sources familiar with the company’s plans have said that the actual consumer launch is expected “within several weeks of that date,” suggesting that it may launch in May or June of this year.

The new subscription service is expected to be incorporated into Apple’s existing “TV” app, and reportedly may even include at least some of Apple’s original content free of charge to Apple device owners, while only charging a subscription fee for content from other premium services which Apple has been working on a partnership with, such as HBO, Showtime, and Starz.

The initial launch of Apple’s new TV service is expected to be limited to the U.S., although Apple reportedly has plans to rapidly expand it globally to more than 100 countries throughout the rest of 2019, suggesting a much more rapid rollout than the company has undertaken in the past; while Apple Music launched worldwide, it stood on the shoulders of the iTunes Store, which took much longer to make its way around the world when it first debuted almost 20 years ago. Other services like Apple News and Apple’s HomePod speaker have been considerably slower to reach beyond exclusively English-speaking countries.

It’s also perhaps worth noting that as of this writing, Apple’s TV app, which will be the platform for the service, is still only available in ten countries, so a rollout of the video content service to the expected 100 countries will also require Apple to also start pushing its TV app out far more widely. This may not be as serious an obstacle as it sounds, however; Apple has traditionally limited its TV app to countries that have television networks and streaming services that are willing to integrate with the platform, having clearly decided that access to purchased iTunes Movies and TV Shows is not enough to justify rolling out the app in countries where no other services are available. It seems clear that this strategy would change with the release of Apple’s own video streaming service, although access to other premium content might be considerably more limited outside of the U.S.

It also remains unclear which of Apple’s many video productions will be available at the initial launch; while information on which series’ Apple has placed orders for is readily available, details like production schedules remain shrouded in Apple’s typical cloak of secrecy.

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