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Apple has spent billions on original programming over the past few years to prep its forthcoming entry into the crowded video-streaming market. At long last, the company seems poised to launch the service.
Apple is targeting a launch in April or early May, according to a CNBC report, which cites people familar with the matter. The service will offer original content developed by Apple and a channel-like interface allowing users to sign up for other streaming platforms. Everything will be viewable within the iOS TV app.
Incorporating rival services has reportedly been a sticking point for other streaming providers, as Apple aims to bring an App Store-like gatekeeper approach to controlling streaming content on iOS devices—and taking a hefty cut.
CNBC reports that companies and premium cable networks including CBS/Showtime, Starz, and Viacom have signed on to offer subscription services through Apple's platform, but HBO is still in negotiations. The big three streaming platforms—Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video—are not expected to participate. Amazon offers similar add-ons through its Prime Video service, but Netflix and Hulu are not among them. Hulu has its own add-ons; Netflix does not offer any.
Apple is reportedly planning to take a 30 percent cut on every streaming app subscription through its service, compared to the 15 percent it currently takes from streaming service subscriptions through the App Store.
This strategy is part of Apple's software and services business model, which it has grand designs to expand to several other industries. The Wall Street Journal reports that the tech giant is demanding 50 percent from news publishers for a subscription Apple news service it's building from its acquisition of Texture, described as a "Netflix for magazines." Cheddar recently reported the company is exploring a similar service for video games.
The other side of the equation is original content. Apple will reportedly offer its TV shows for free to iOS users inside the pre-installed TV app on iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV devices. Apple has already released two shows, Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke, and Apple has around two dozen shows in development or production with some big names, including a reported content deal with Oprah Winfrey and a major bidding war for the rights to new Peanuts content.
Apple's original content includes a morning news drama starring Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carell, children's programming from the producers of Sesame Street, a remake of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories, a sci-fi series from Battlestar Galactica showrunner Ron Moore, a drama series from La La Land and Whiplash director Damien Chazelle, and a Sofia Coppola original film starring Bill Murray and Rashida Jones.
Additional projects in development have Hollywood stars including Chris Evans, Jason Momoa, Jennifer Garner, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia stars Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney attached.
Apple's shows will reportedly be family-friendly, Quartz reports; no sex, violence, or profanity from Cupertino. When adding yet another online content platform to the infinite digital media pile, banning R-rated content of any kind is certainly one way for Apple to differentiate its originals.