Apple may soon start releasing original TV shows and movies to subscribers of its Apple Music streaming service, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
Apple has been in talks with producers, directors, and film and TV marketers in recent months about buying the rights to various shows and promoting them, according to the Journal, and the company is aiming to release the original programming by the end of 2017.
Apple has had a few other small forays into TV. It produced a few short documentaries about musical artists and recently bought the rights to James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke,” a segment on his late-night show. The company is also producing a semi-autobiographical scripted show, Vital Signs, about Dr. Dre, an executive at the company and the creator of the Apple-owned Beats headphones. Apple has yet to buy scripted programming from outside producers, though, and the content it’s currently considering will not be directly tied to music, the Journal reports.
Apple Music won’t become the next Netflix or Amazon Video any time soon, however. Without a plan for an entire slate of programming costing hundreds of millions of dollars, it is unlikely that Apple will be a direct competitor to either. Still, the move signals that Apple is heading towards being a media company as well as a technology company. Whether the company will distribute the original programming via Apple TV remains unclear. Beats Radio creates original content in addition to working as a distribution and discovery engine for Apple Music: It employs DJs who host talk shows as well as curate playlists.
The pivot to original programming comes as sales of Apple’s flagship products are slowing. The iPhone 6S, launched in September 2015, met with lower demand than expected. And competition in the smartphone market is rising after Google debuted the Pixel, its first designed-from-scratch phone, and as Chinese smartphone companies like Huawei and Xiaomi race catch up to their American rivals. Apple reported a 33% decline in Chinese sales in July 2016.
Apple Music, too, has some catching up to do. Its biggest rival, Spotify, holds a huge lead in paid subscribers. The Swedish company boasted 40 million paid subscribers in September 2016. Apple Music’s paid subscribers doubled in 2016, but that still only put the service at 20 million subscribers.
An Apple spokesperson declined to comment.