We’ve long known that Apple is working on original TV content. Now, a new report suggests that at least some of that content may be given away for free.
While Apple’s slate of first-party shows has been a poorly kept secret, the exact method the company is planning on using to distribute that content has remained unclear. But a new CNBC report, citing sources familiar with the matter, may be giving us a clearer picture.
Apple is reportedly working on a first-party digital video service, which has been rumored before. But CNBC indicates that the platform could “marry” original content and subscription content from legacy media companies. This combined streaming platform would live in the TV application that’s already installed on iOS and Apple TV devices.
Most notably, the report suggests that the Apple-produced and owned content would be free to owners of Apple devices, while only other subscription channels — like HBO or Starz — would cost money to access through the TV app.
That’s a similar strategy to Apple’s original TV content now. The company currently offers “Carpool Karaoke: The Series” for free to all users of the TV app.
The platform would be similar to Amazon Prime Video channels, which combines original content along the ability to access other subscription-based content in a single app, Bloomberg reported earlier this year.
CNBC reported that Apple plans on debuting the revamped TV app with original content and new features in “early 2019.”
But while Apple’s stable of TV shows might not cost Apple device owners anything at first, the company has other long-term plans in the area.
Reportedly, Apple is focusing on “PG-rated” content that is not risqué so it won’t get in trouble by offering it for free to iOS and Apple TV owners. But Apple is also “looking for ‘tent pole’ franchises that could serve as linchpins to a paid Netflix-like subscription service down the road,” CNBC added.
That could tie-in with Apple’s wider plans in the subscription market. There have been previous rumors suggesting that Apple is developing an all-in-one subscription that combines Apple Music, original TV content, and news and magazine content (thanks to its acquisition of Texture).
Apple has spent as much as $1 billion on original content this year, according to past reports. As evidence of that, the company has an ever-increasing stable of original TV shows that are currently in the works.
Based on the number of iOS and Apple TV devices out there, it’s safe to say that Apple already has a built-in market for its original content. It’s just a matter of getting people to watch that content.
On that front, this move could bode well for Apple, particularly when its content service in its nascent stage. No other streaming platform, such as Netflix or Hulu, offers a completely free tier. By doing so, Apple could help its own TV programs stand out in a saturated marketplace.