Macworld (USA)

Apple’s building a massive TV studio

And don’t expect anything too dark.

- BY MICHAEL SIMON

Over the past year, Apple has been stockpilin­g talent and content for what seemed to be the imminent launch of a new video service packed with choice programmin­g from Reese Witherspoo­n, Steven Spielberg, Kristen Wiig, and M. Night Shyamalan ( go.macworld.com/ogtv). But a new report suggests they might not be coming as soon as you think.

In a sprawling article on Apple’s streaming video ambitions, The New York

Times ( go.macworld.com/ag2h) reports that Apple is targeting “somewhere between March 2019 and the summer of that year to roll out its slate of new programmin­g.” It’s unclear from the report whether multiple shows would be airing at once, or if episodes would see a staggered release like Apple has previously done with

Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps.

The report also details the size and ambition of Apple’s efforts. Apple is said to be building a 128,000-square-foot facility in Culver City, California, to house its entertainm­ent division, and will be pumping out a dozen shows to start. Among the titles being produced are a sci-fi series by Battlestar Galactica alum Ronald D. Moore and a drama series by Academy Award-winning La La Land director Damien Chazelle.

Perhaps most anticipate­d among the crop of new shows is a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s 1980’s series Amazing Stories. The Times reports that that project is progressin­g slowly, however, because executive producer Brian Fuller left the show after creative difficulti­es and has yet to be replaced. Apple and Spielberg reportedly balked at Fuller’s “dark” direction for the show, which runs afoul of Apple’s “bright, optimistic brand identity,” the Times reports. The original show was a decidedly family-friendly effort built around tales off wonder rather than terror.

The Times also says that Apple’s morning-show drama starring

Witherspoo­n and Jennifer Aniston has yet to receive a script.

Apple has not yet announced how the shows will be distribute­d, but previous efforts have been bundled with Apple Music subscripti­ons. However, with a full slate of shows due to arrive next year, it’s more likely that Apple will use its Apple TV box or TV app for the new service, likely behind a pay wall. By bundling a subscripti­on with Apple Music, it would give Apple a valuable one-two punch to take on both Netflix and Spotify.

The impact on you at home: Apple may be arriving late to the streaming party, but don’t count them out. Like Apple Music, Apple has the influence and the financial fortitude to make a real splash right out of the gate, especially with such an array of star power already signed on. Competing with the likes of HBO, Netflix, and Amazon isn’t going to be easy, but Apple’s familyfrie­ndly approach here could be a difference-maker. While many of the hottest streaming shows are geared toward adults, a service that appeals to a variety of age groups could put Apple in a different class. At any rate, we’re probably going to be waiting a little while longer for the first show to arrive, so don’t start popping the popcorn just yet. ■

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