With Apple continuing along with its iPhone, iPad, and MacBook lines, one thing that the company has been slow to embrace is original content for its Apple TV set top box. The Information reports that Apple is well on its way to launch a streaming service of its own in the U.S., perhaps as soon as the first half of 2019 and the rest of the world later in the year.
When Apple launched the device earlier in this decade, there was some promise over what it could provide. However, it’s been surpassed by Roku, Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV in market share, according to the most recent survey.
But this year, Apple has been green lighting various projects involving some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell, and Stephen Spielberg. It’s been spending more than $1 billion for various series.
Apple hopes to challenge Netflix and Amazon Prime with original content and series. However, there’s been no mention of sports when it comes to the service. While Netflix has said it’s not interested in live sports, not just once, not just twice, but three times (at least), Amazon has gone the other way by spending on various sports properties, both here in the United States and in the United Kingdom.
That leaves Apple stuck in the middle. It has tied live sports and live news into its TV app, which also has content from iTunes, Amazon, HBO Go, Hulu, and CBS All Access, as well as other TV networks into a one-stop shopping app.
But as Apple invests into original TV series, the next question is whether or not it decide to invest in sports for the service. With sports leagues looking ahead to the next wave of rights contracts in the 2020s, they will seek new partners to supplement, or even possibly replace, the networks. We’ve already seen Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook gain rights for live sports. But those are mostly to compliment the networks, most notably in the case of Thursday Night Football. They could seek for the tech companies to get a bigger piece of the pie in the next decade.
There were rumors a few years ago that the NFL had approached Apple to carry games, but they apparently were just that: rumors.
Apple is a company that doesn’t need live sports, but it could use some exclusive events to attract people to its TV app and perhaps institute a fee as a potential revenue stream. But that all depends on whether it wants to dip its proverbial toe into the sports waters.
The company has been secretive about its plans and usually doesn’t go public until a launch event, such as this week’s iPad Pro unveiling. We may not see anything about sports until Apple is good and ready, but as various leagues hunt for new revenue themselves, we’ll see if Apple decides to bring sports into its fold, tie it to Apple TV and thus, its new streaming service.