Apple’s Netflix competitor will reportedly be unveiled in March... or maybe April

By Chris Welch

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Apple’s upcoming March 25th event will see the introduction of the company’s long-awaited video subscription service, according to a new report from Bloomberg. Yesterday, BuzzFeed News reported that Apple plans to announce its news subscription service at the March event, but it seems like the company has more than just that in the works.

Apple has reportedly invited Hollywood stars, including “Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Garner and JJ Abrams” to attend, in a clear nod to its video plans. The premium video subscription offering will be home to Apple’s original TV shows and movies as the company moves to take on Netflix and Amazon and further boost its services division. (All of the names mentioned above are attached to original Apple content.)

Bloomberg says the video initiative is expected to launch sometime this summer, but our first look may come in just a few weeks — although it is worth noting that a Reuters report published later this afternoon says Apple’s event may come in April rather than March. BuzzFeed reported that that March event wouldn’t include hardware like a new iPad mini, but perhaps an April one would.

What these reports agree on: customers will be able to subscribe to add-on “channels” like Starz and other networks. Amazon already does something similar to this with Amazon Prime Video Channels, and Roku has recently started selling video subscriptions through its Roku Channel. Apple’s own attempt at bundling video subscriptions is unlikely to include Netflix, Hulu, and HBO, CNBC reported earlier today, as some networks are unhappy with the percentage of each subscription that Apple wants to keep for itself. (This same frustration also extends to the subscription news app. Some publishers are refusing to participate due to Apple’s terms, with the company reportedly pushing for a 50 percent cut of each paid news subscription.)

Reuters says that HBO is actually still in talks with Apple to potentially be part of the launch.

The video service will “likely” be accessed through the TV app that ships preinstalled on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV, according to Bloomberg. Apple will almost certainly bring the service to third-party devices over time to maximize viewership. The company and Samsung already announced an upcoming iTunes Movies and TV Shows app for 2019 Samsung TVs earlier this year.

Update, 6:58 PM ET: Added detail from Reuters, whose reporting seems to contradict some of Bloomberg and CNBC’s reports.