It’s certainly no secret that Apple has grand ambitions in the TV streaming space. Over the past few months alone, the company has made a number of intriguing and notable series purchases. Two of the more prominent deals include a multi-million dollar deal to reboot the 80s sci-fi classic Amazing Stories and a new original series from Damien Chazelle, the famed director and writer behind films such as La La Land and Whiplash.
Competing with incumbents like Netflix and HBO is clearly a tall and expensive endeavor, though coming up with cash to pay for projects is obviously not a concern for Apple given the company’s swelling bank account. What’s more, word is that Apple has given the folks in charge of its TV unit — former Sony execs Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg — a $1 billion pool from which they can draw from to help develop, produce, and acquire original content.
That much we know. What we don’t know, however, is how Apple’s TV plans will actually manifest in the marketplace. While there are rumblings that Apple’s first TV efforts will debut by spring or summer of 2019, details regarding pricing and accessibility remain unclear.
Will viewers have to pay a subscription for the new fare, just like they now have to pay for Apple Music in order to watch the “Carpool Karaoke” series? What will the new service be called? Will it appear as its own app? What about viewers who don’t currently have an Apple device.
These are fair questions that Apple better have good answers to because there’s already an abundance of good TV out there and consumers aren’t necessarily looking for more when they can barely keep up with what’s already available.
In the interim, Apple’s somewhat secretive TV plans may be hurting the company’s ability to ink long-term deals.
To this point, a Hollywood agent recently told IndieWire: “I don’t know, and nobody knows, and it makes me nervous. I’d sell one-off deals with Apple all day long. But I’d never do a [major, long-term talent deal] with them because I don’t know what it means to be an Apple show. How do they market it? Where’s it going to show up? How are people going to see it?”
Again, all valid questions Apple will need to have solid answers for in the months ahead. For some time, many industry observers have suggested that Apple will likely make its shows available for free with an Apple Music subscription. While this strikes me as a smart approach, the company will have some tough competition in this respect given the recent deal between Spotify and Hulu.
All that said, the TV landscape has never been more exciting and it will be fascinating to see how Apple plans to position its own TV streaming service, assuming of course that it does launch within the next 12-16 months as previously reported.