March media event is said to have A-list Hollywood celebrities to help promote a new streaming video service and a paying news product.
The actual video service may only be available in the fall, according to sources speaking to Variety. Apple has a slew of shows in the works, with some celebrities starring in and producing these new shows, such as Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carrell, Jennifer Garner, Oprah Winfrey, M. Night Shyamalan, Richard Gere and J.J. Abrams.
The exact date of the event is unconfirmed though several estimates from supply chain sources and prior media guests, collectively suggest that the anticipated date is March 25. While the full itinerary for the March 25 event at the Steve Jobs Theater remains unknown, the event is expected to focus primarily on the new streaming video service and the paid news subscription service, leaving hardware product launches for later in September at Apple’s signature launch events.
The initial report came from BuzzFeed's John Paczkowski, who has frequently been the first to report on Apple media events in the past. He said the event will focus on subscriptions and that expected hardware events such as updated AirPods and their charging cases or new iPad minis would occur only at later events.
Apple’s new streaming video service is expected to offer access to third-party subscription services from companies like CBS, Viacom and possibly HBO. The new service is not expected to offer access to Apple’s two largest competitors in the space, Netflix and Hulu. Apple is expected to follow a model similar to Amazon Channels where customers can buy different services from the same place, simplifying payments and offering centralized viewing akin to Prime Video. New content could initially be free, but then be focused on some popular shows, similar to HBO Now’s emphasis on Game of Thrones.
Apple's new video service will probably be embedded within its existing TV app. Apple is spending over $1 billion on these original shows. Apple CEO Tim Cook had already spoken of Apple’s intent to be part of the ‘breakdown of the cable bundle.’
Apple News Magazines
Apple is expected to launch a service of newspapers and magazines called ‘Apple News Magazines” with a paid Apple News subscription. The name is associated with beta version of iOS 12.2 that showed possible bundle subscriptions, linking Apple News magazines, Apple Music and an upcoming Apple video service.
A stand-alone subscription to Apple News magazines would cost $10 per month, similar to an individual subscription to Apple Music. The new Apple News Magazine service builds upon Apple’s acquisition of Texture, a digital service providing access to popular magazines, in 2018. Apple’s new version is expected to continue magazine access, while adding newspapers.
Apple’s new expected $9.99 per month subscription would allow users unlimited access previously paywalled content on news sites such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. The financial terms of these deals are still being negotiated. Apple has requested 50 percent of revenue from the service, while the remaining revenue would be divided among publishers. News publishers have balked at the deal. Negotiations of exact pricing terms and access are still be hammered out.
There is also the possibility that Apple will bundle its news service with iCloud storage options and the new video service, thus offering an Apple services package for both news and video at once. The news service would also include access to magazines.
If Apple chooses to offer bundled options, this could generate significant income for the company, building upon its already successful services business today that includes the App Store, Apple Music, iCloud, Apple Pay, AppleCare and licensing. The services division generated $9.19 billion last quarter, increasing 21 percent year over year. Apple Music has also seen a significant jump in users, with 56 million users across both paid and free (trial) subscriptions as of last year.
Apple News first launched in 2015 on the iPhone and iPad. By 2016, the audience had grown to 60 million users. Apple News introduced subscriptions that year with 2000 publishers. In 2018, Apple News expanded to macOS. Apple News today is available in the US, UK, Australia and Canada. At Elf, we are launching our channel on Apple News this winter in just a few weeks!