Apple to Launch Subscription TV Service Next Year

Tech giant’s answer to Netflix expected to debut in first half of 2019

Apple is armed and ready to join the content wars.

The tech giant plans to launch its own subscription TV service in the United States — with plans to quickly expand to more than 100 countries — during the first half of 2019, The Information first reported on Tuesday.

Apple, after a year of signing several high-profile content deals with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, plans on offering its own shows for free on Apple devices, CNBC reported last week. The standalone service, marking Apple’s counter to established streamers like Netflix, will offer subscriptions to specific TV services, similar to Amazon Prime Video, Bloomberg reported earlier this year.

Apple’s billion-dollar content push was set in motion last year, after content chief Eddy Cue brought over Sony Pictures Television Presidents Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg to run its video business, tipping its hand that it would be getting into scripted content. Since then, Apple has landed deals with Oprah, Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams, among other heavy hitters. The company has roughly 20 shows in its pipeline, including a morning show drama that Steve Carrell joined Tuesday morning.

Apple already enjoys a built-in advantage, compared to other streamers, by offering its shows for free. The company estimates there are 1.3 billion active Apple devices, giving the Cupertino, California-based company a massive audience from the start. Netflix, the king of streaming in Hollywood, reported last week it has an estimated 137 million global subscribers.

Apple did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.