Apple, is expected to have a March 25 event at its Cupertino campus, where it could introduce the entertainment service, a new magazine subscription app and an update to its popular AirPods wireless earbuds.
Apple, coming off declining iPhone sales, is looking to make up the difference.
“I know they are chomping at the bit to get this out there,” says Gene Munster, an investor and analyst with Loup Ventures. “Even if they’re not totally ready, they could still launch with just a handful of shows, and then bring out more in the summer.”
Apple reportedly reached out to the cream of the crop of Hollywood talent for the service, including director Steven Spielberg for a remake of his 1980’s NBC series Amazing Stories,Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon in a drama based at a morning news TV operation, documentaries from Oprah Winfrey and a sitcom from Kristen Wig.
Munster thinks Apple will offer the service for free for the first three months, as an app, like iTunes, available on iPhones, iPads, computers and via the Apple TV set-top box and then begin charging. His prediction: $3 monthly if bundled with Apple’s current $9.99 Apple Music offering, or $6.99 as a stand-alone product.
That’s a good deal cheaper than industry leader Netflix, which charges $11.99 for its most popular rate, but then Apple will have a tiny library in comparison. CBS, which also debuted with a smaller library for its All Access offering of originals (new Star Trek, and a sequel to the Good Wife) and library titles like Perry Mason and Cheers, charges $5.99 monthly, with ads, or $9.99 ad-free.
Apple’s track record in entertainment isn’t stellar. It debuted two new series in 2017, the widely panned Planet of the Apps reality show in 2017 and an extended version of the CBS late night comedy bit Carpool Karaoke. It also debuted in 2017 with five episodes, but hasn’t been heard from since.
Apple reported falling iPhone sales in its most recent earnings report, down 15 percent for the holiday quarter, but a booming business for its Services, which includes iCloud online storage, Apple Music and iTunes movie rentals. The company said Services revenue rose $10.9 billion, or 19 percent, over the previous year.