Apple’s Video Service: Everything We Know So Far

Senior Writer

The long-rumored Apple streaming service could finally launch in just a few months. Here's everything we've heard so far about the service, from its potential release date and name to the types of channels and content you can expect from it.Credit: Tom's GuideCredit: Tom's Guide

When is Apple's streaming service coming?

A CNBC report appears to confirm a lot of what we've been hearing, starting with Apple's plans to launch the service in "April or early May." The Information claimed that Apple told content providers and service partners to have their content ready by the middle of April, and that the company targeted a launch date "within several weeks" of that timeframe.

But the launch date may be even later, as a Variety report on Feb. 14 claims "sources familiar with the company’s plans told Variety that the service may not launch until the summer, or even fall."

According to Bloomberg, the video streaming service will be announced at a March 25 event that Apple's expected to use to announce its new news service. The report states Apple invited "Hollywood stars, including Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Garner and director JJ Abrams, to attend," and cited "people familiar with the plan."

At that March 25 event, according to the Variety report, we'll get our first look at its shows, with clips from multiple shows, including a taste of a morning newsroom drama series that stars Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell.

What will Apple's TV service be called?

While Apple's yet to leak a name for the service, CNBC's story refers to "Channels" when it notes that Netflix and Hulu aren't expected to be on the service.

How much will Apple's TV service cost? What about availability?

Last October, we heard the first reports of Apple allowing device owners to stream its original content for free, via the TV app on tvOS and iOS. On Feb. 13, we learned the latter is expected to arrive via an iOS 12.2 update to be released this spring. But since Apple's technology is landing on other TVs, it's not hard to imagine that those without Apple devices will possibly get an option to watch, for a monthly fee.

Apple's service may also sell content from other content creators, similar to how you can buy channels ala carte from Amazon Prime's Video Channels service.

What content will be available through Apple's service?

Apple's original content — which so far includes Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke — has not provided the company any hits. This has pushed the company to hire big names and greenlight their projects, which will total "dozens of original programs" according to Bloomberg's Feb. 13 report.

For example, Deadline Hollywood reported that Apple is near a deal for a sci-fi series from Simon Kinberg (who played a major role in Fox's X-Men movies) and David Weil. Apple's also announced a "multi-year content partnership" with entertainment mogul Oprah Winfrey. Other big names signed to contracts include Reese Witherspoon and Steven Spielberg. Apple's even signed a deal with Justin Lin, which will find the Fast & Furious director creating two original programs for Apple to stream.

Apple's so serious about these plans that it planned to spend around $1 billion on original content last year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

What about HBO and other companies?

In terms of non-original programming, reports suggest that viewers will get the option to subscribe to programming from Starz; CBS and Viacom and other partners through Apple's platform.

CNBC's Feb. 13 report notes that "HBO may join its premium network brethren," but that discussions aren't far along and that "Apple hasn't offered HBO the same terms that Amazon offered." A source told Variety that HBO "is widely expected to sign on at some point.

CNBC also notes that the core of the argument may be Apple's push for a 30 percent cut of sales made through its service. Currently, Apple earns 15 percent of streaming membership sales made via apps on its app stores.