Apple Video Streaming Service: What Shows and Programs Could Be Coming to Netflix Rival?

Customers queue inside an Apple store in Hong Kong on September 25, 2015. The company has teased a new video subscription service. PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Apple's tease this week that it will reveal something big to the world on March 25 appears to confirm reports it is set to announce a Netflix-rival streaming service.

The technology giant's invitation to global press, sent out yesterday, was for a "special event" taking place at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, the corporate headquarters of the company. It included a countdown gif and a banner that read: "It's show time."

The mysterious announcement aligned with recent reports from The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, which said video and news subscription services were on the cusp of being revealed. Bloomberg had reported Hollywood stars including Jennifer Aniston, JJ Abrams, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Garner will be present at the March 25 event.

CNBC reported back in February that Apple was expected to launch a video service by early May. It reported rival companies including Netflix and Hulu were highly unlikely to be featured on the platform, which does not yet have an official name, logo or branding. Starz, CBS, Viacom and possibly HBO will be featured, unconfirmed speculation has suggested.

Apple is known to already have active TV shows in development, Apple Insider reported. Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi was poised to direct an episode of a Time Bandits adaptation. M. Night Shyamalan was recently tipped to be developing a psychological thriller. And actor Steve Carell last year joined the cast of a drama series also featuring Witherspoon and Aniston.

In June 2018, Apple announced that it had agreed a deal with Oprah Winfrey to make "original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world."

In a brief statement, the company described the deal as a "multi-year content partnership" and said that it would "be released as part of a lineup of original content from Apple."

In 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported Apple had signed a deal with studios linked to veteran director Steven Spielberg to create new episodes of the 1980s science-fiction anthology show Amazing Stories. A 10-episode run was struck, with Spielberg in an executive producer role.

In December last year, Variety reported that Apple had ordered a series starring Jennifer Garner that would be produced by Star Wars and Mission: Impossible director JJ Abrams. In January this year, Apple acquired a Sofia Coppola feature film starring actor Bill Murray.

Bloomberg reported last month that Apple has been eyeing up video subscriptions as a way to offset falling iPhone sales. The platform, which will seemingly have some integration with the Apple TV app, is being helmed by two ex-Sony Pictures executives: Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht.

"We see huge changes in customer behavior taking place now," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a January earnings call. "We think that it will accelerate as the year goes by to sort of breakdown of the cable bundle that's been talked about for years. And I think that it'll likely take place at a much faster pace this year. And so we're going to participate in that in a variety of ways."

Speculation is rife about what Apple has planned for its video service, which was backed with a huge $1 billion investment in 2017. Pricing structure remains unknown, as does the speculation about the rollout of a dongle-like device. Luckily, we don't have to wait long to find out.