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Apple TV shows: original content could be free on Apple devices

According to a new report from CNBC, Apple is planning to freely give away many of the original shows it has in the pipeline – perhaps as soon as this March.

Though nothing has been officially announced yet, it’s no secret that Apple has a couple dozen shows in the works. After testing the waters with Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps, it’s said to have laid down more than a billion dollars toward creating original TV shows to fill up a future streaming service. We’ve heard tell of all kinds of shows on Apple’s horizon, from a new Oprah Winfrey project to a revival of Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” anthology.

There has been little consensus on how Apple might charge for this content. So far, its limited shows have been broadcast free on Apple Music, but as its TV ambitions broaden that may not be the best platform. Many have assumed that once Apple amasses enough content, it will start charging a subscription fee to access it, thus directly competing with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

However, this latest report, citing “people familiar with the matter,” says that instead Apple will dump all its own programming into a completely redesigned TV app early next year – and let people watch it for free.

Though free content might sound like a bad business plan at first, it makes sense on a number of levels. For a start, until the company builds up a pretty serious roster of content, users might feel short-changed paying for a subscription service with only a handful of shows to its name.

Beyond that, it’s yet another exclusive tying people into the Apple ecosystem. The TV app is only available on Apple devices: iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. (Hopefully a Mac version will arrive next year.) This means that only Apple customers will be able to watch these shows, and if it can conjure up some must-see content it will be a compelling reason to switch to iOS (or, conversely, to not leave it.)

The report also suggests that the revamped TV app will feature “channels” of content from third-party providers, each available via an in-app subscription. Apple is looking for a way to unite all your content into a single streaming app, and it figures it can give its own stuff away free if it skims the cream from the top of other networks’ output.

Though there’s no real timeframe beyond “early 2019,” its rumored that March could be when Apple starts drip-feeding its new shows into the TV app. We’ll be sure to keep you posted when we know more!