Apple aims to launch its streaming video service as soon as March of next year, or roughly around the summer of 2019, the New York Times reports today. Run by a team formerly from Sony’s TV division, the Apple Worldwide Video studio now has around 40 employees overseeing shows and plans to offer a mix of adult dramas, kids’ TV, and content for Latin America and Europe from a 128,000-square foot headquarters in Culver City, California.
Over the last six months, Apple has used a reported $1 billion budget to sign producers and showrunners for 12 different series, aggressively bidding against Netflix and other studios. However, the Times reports that Apple is on track to spend far more than that, having recently outspent both YouTube and Facebook on original series, including projects from top names in the television and movie business.
While the prospect of partnering with Apple may be appealing to some producers, the company is reportedly looking for shows with a “bright, optimistic” spin, in part so they could be aired without edits in Apple’s retail stores. This angle was reportedly why respected producer Bryan Fuller’s will no longer be involved in a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories anthology series. Fuller has not yet been replaced.
Other shows currently under development include an M. Night Shyamalan thriller, a space drama from Battlestar Galactica‘s Ronald D. Moore, a comedy with Kristen Wiig, a drama from La La Land‘s Damien Chazelle, a futuristic drama from The Hunger Games‘ Francis Lawrence, and a drama from Octavia Spencer. Additionally, a morning network TV drama from Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston is expected to complete its initial script this week. The reported mid-2019 launch allows time for each show’s production to ramp up and episodes to be filmed.
Earlier this month, Apple vice president Eddy Cue told an audience at SXSW that the company was focused on telling great stories in long-form videos, rather than offering YouTube-style videos or acquiring a rival such as Netflix or Disney. Despite Cue’s comments, Apple was rumored last week to be considering an acquisition of Sony’s television studios.