by Anousha Sakoui and Mark Gurman
Apple Inc is planning to unveil video and news subscription offerings next month, the first major new digital services from the company since 2015.
The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is planning a March 25 event to announce both services, according to people familiar with the plan. The iPhone maker invited Hollywood stars, including Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Garner and director JJ Abrams, to attend, one of the people said.
The video service is similar to Amazon.com Inc’s Prime Video and Netflix Inc products, and will include TV shows and movies either acquired or funded by Apple. The company has created dozens of original programs so far, but hasn’t wrapped them in a subscription yet. The paid service will launch by the summer, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing private plans.
The company’s premium news service will be integrated into the Apple News app, letting consumers subscribe to a bundle of titles for a monthly fee. Some publishing executives are wary of taking part, Bloomberg News reported in December.
Final details are still being worked out, and Apple’s plans could change. An Apple spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment. BuzzFeed earlier reported that the News subscription service would launch on March 25.
With iPhone sales slowing, Apple is turning to digital services to keep revenue growing. Apple Music is already a hit with more than 50 million subscribers. Wall Street is speculating that the company will eventually roll many of these offerings into one bundled monthly subscription, similar to Amazon’s successful Prime program.
Apple has been working on its streaming video service for a number of years under the guidance of former Sony Pictures executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht. Bloomberg News reported last year that Apple would begin rolling out the shows in 2019.
The content is likely to be integrated into Apple’s TV app on iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs, which launched in 2016. Along with an Apple subscription, there will be some free content. Users will also be able to pay to access shows from other providers, such as Starz, as is possible with Amazon’s video service. Today, Apple offers a handful of free shows, such as “Carpool Karaoke” and “Planet of the Apps.”
The magazine subscription service, which has been in testing with Apple employees for months, will launch as part of an iOS 12.2 update scheduled for release this spring. The updated Apple News app will include a Magazines tab similar to the app Texture, which Apple acquired last year.