Apple Netflix-style streaming and video-on-demand service plans


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Rumours that Apple has been planning to launch a streaming service have been around for years, now the company has launched its first shows.

Apple is joining the likes of Netflix and Amazon and making its own TV shows for distribution on the Apple TV, and you can start streaming Apple's shows this spring, as long as you subscribe to Apple Music for £9.99 a month.

Apple has launched two shows so far, Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps, and you can find out more about them below. The shows are distributed via the £9.99 a month Apple Music subscription service.

Apple Music head Jimmy Iovine confirmed that Apple had plans to offer original video content via its Apple Music service back in January 2017. Speaking at a Television Critics Association event, Irvine said that Apple is working towards creating "an entire cultural, pop cultural experience, and that happens to include audio and video," via the Apple Music service.

Apple has also hired two ex-Sony Pictures execs to help it with its programming. 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).

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.”

Van Amburg added: “Apple has a relentless focus on delighting customers with their products. We will bring that same intention to Apple’s programming and we could not be more excited about what lies ahead,” according to a report on Deadline Hollywood.

What TV shows is Apple making?

The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Apple has been talking to producers about creating premium programming and movies, but so far we know that the following programmes are being made for Apple's streaming service:

Carpool Karaoke

A popular spot on CBS's The Late Late Show, 16 episodes of Carpool Karaoke will be available to stream via Apple Music - though not all will star original host James Corden, and the majority will instead feature a variety of celebrity pairings.

The show was set to start streaming in April, but only premiered in August 2017.

Carpool Karaoke: The Series will feature Will Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, Seth MacFarlane, Billy Eichner, Metallica, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Ariana Grande, Chelsea Handler, Blake Shelton, Michael Strahan, Jeff Gordon, and John Cena according to Deadline Hollywood.

Planet of the Apps

Hosted by 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 a escalator ride to pitch their apps.

The show is now available on Apple Music - watch it here.

Apple posted this trailer:

Vital Signs

Backed by Apple, Dr Dre's semi-autobiographical six-part series was rumoured to be in production in February 2016. However, little has been revealed about this show since those reports appeared regarding it.

Podcast: Apple's TV plans

The UK Tech Weekly Podcast team discuss Apple TV-streaming plans in episode 52, starting at 24 minutes.

Will Apple's shows only be about music and apps?

Apparently Apple doesn't intend to limit content. The programmes won't be limited to music or app themes, according to Apple Music head Jimmy Iovine. "If South Park walks into my office, I am not going to say you're not musicians, you know?" he said, as reported by the Hollywood Reporter.

When will I be able to watch Apple's TV shows in the UK?

We expect that the programmes will be available on Apple Music in the UK at the same time as they go live on Apple Music in the US.

How can I watch Apple's TV shows?

The shows are available for Apple Music subscribers for £9.99 a month. As of February 2017 there are 20 million paid subscribers to the service. Subscribers are able to stream the shows on their Apple devices including the newest Apple TV model, the iPhone and iPad.

Will Apple stream shows for free?

It is thought that the shows will only be available to Apple Music subscribers, so it is unlikely that you will be able to watch the shows without paying for an Apple Music subscription.

Apple is unlikely to offer an commercial-based model in order to cut the cost to consumers. Speaking at Recode in February, 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."

There is no indication that the shows will be made available to purchase separately on iTunes either.

However if you don't yet have an Apple Music subscription you could take advantage of the three-month free trial to watch the new shows when they come out.

Is Apple trying to take on Netflix with an Apple Streaming service?

There have been rumours for years that Apple planned to work with the networks to distribute content via its own 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.

Will Apple buy Sony, Paramount...

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 it would make Apple a conglomerate and we don't think that becoming such a diverse organisation would fit  with Apple's DNA.

Could Apple buy Netflix?

Another rumour doing the rounds 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.

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.