Apple is eyeing an April or early May debut for a new, long-rumored video aggregation service that will feature its own original shows and content, but without integration with Netflix and Hulu, and possibly without HBO, CNBC reported.
The new offering will stream in Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)-produced originals for free on Apple's own platforms while also providing an easy way for users to tack-on and pay for additional subscriptions to other OTT services, the report added. The latter part of that offering would appear to share traits with Amazon Channels, Amazon Prime's SVoD aggregation service, as well as The Roku Channel, which recently complemented its free, ad-based menu of TV shows and movies with a path to add from a selection of subscription-based video services. All of those offerings are diluting the video aggregation role that has traditionally been the domain of cable operators and other pay-TV providers. (See Roku Targets Amazon With 'Premium Subscriptions' and Podcast: Bundle Up, Everyone. Pay-TV Is a Cold, Cold Business.)
Bloomberg and BuzzFeed, meanwhile, said Apple plans to introduce that new video service and a Netflix-style subscription news offering at a March 25 event.
Apple's bigger move into video would amplify the streaming platform battle, but the focus on originals is also a clear indication as to why Apple is starting to cut deals for iTunes to be supported on non-Apple devices. Additional rumors about Apple's plan also comes about two years after the company hired former Time Warner Cable Exec Peter Stern to head up its video, news, iCloud and ad services. (See Apple's Walls Come Tumbling Down With Samsung TV Tie-Up.)
The integration of HBO is "in doubt," possibly due to disagreements about how revenues would be split and what data would be kept or shared, while Starz, CBS (Showtime) and Viacom are expected to be part of Apple's subscription streaming lineup, CNBC said. That possibility seems to be entering play as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s WarnerMedia, HBO's owner, gives more consideration to clawing back content it could use to shore up what's available on a set of SVoD services that are slated to launch in Q4 2019. (See Analyst: AT&T Made 'Major Strategic Error' on SVoD Plan and AT&T CEO: Our SVoD Service Won't Be 'Another Netflix'.)
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading