The biggest surprise about next week’s Apple event may be the fact that the company has anything left to announce. This week, several core pieces of Apple hardware received upgrades, including the iPad Air and mini, iMac and AirPods. Given the company’s rush to get all of that out the door, we don’t expect to see much in the way of new devices at Monday’s event.
Apple sent invites announcing that March 25 will be “Show Time.” The wording was a subtle nod to the “It’s Showtime” invites the company sent for its 2006 Special Event, which saw the announcement of, among other things iTV — an early peek at the product that would launch as Apple TV the following year.
This time out, however, the company is all about the services. Taking center stage will be its long-awaited original content play. Apple couldn’t keep the news fully under wraps as it pumped around $1 billion into content, so we’ve been hearing dribs and drabs over the past year or so (more on that below), including hiring everyone from Oprah to Spielberg.
The service is set to compete with the biggest names in streaming, including Amazon, Netflix and Hulu, along with long-rumored newcomers like Disney. Among the more compelling reports we’ve seen surface so far involve the company helping to sell you other streaming services.
In a sense, it wouldn’t be entirely unlike the current Apple TV model. Reports have the company building a new content store focused on offering bundles with cable services like HBO, Showtime and Starz. Put more simply, Apple may be looking to disrupt cable TV by essentially becoming a cable TV provider. Its tremendous hardware outreach will play a major role in helping it gain a toehold — like Apple Music before it.
As for the original content, it’s not clear whether Apple plans to monetize these shows at all. Instead, reports suggest that it could make them available for free to viewers with an Apple device.
Here are all of the projects that have been revealed so far. Keep in mind that they’re in various stages of development, and, as such, may change dramatically or never see the light of day.
- “Amazing Stories” — a reboot of the science fiction anthology series executive produced (in both its old and new versions) by Steven Spielberg.
- “Are You Sleeping?” — a crime show about true crime podcasts, executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and starring Octavia Spencer.
- “Calls” — an adaptation of a French short-form series emphasizing audio storytelling.
- “Central Park” — an animated musical comedy from Loren Bouchard (creator of “Bob’s Burger”), as well as Josh Gad and Nora Smith.
- “Defending Jacob” — a thriller adapted from William Landay’s novel, starring Chris Evans.
- “Dickinson” — a coming-of-age series about the poet Emily Dickinson, starring Hailee Steinfeld.
- “For All Mankind” — a space race-themed science fiction series from Ronald D. Moore, who created the acclaimed reboot of “Battlestar Galactica.”
- “Foundation” — an adaptation of the classic science fiction series by Isaac Asimov, with David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman as showrunners.
- “Home” — a documentary series about extraordinary homes.
- “Little America” — an immigrant-themed anthology series showrun by Lee Eisenberg (“The Office”) and Alan Yang (“Master of None”).
- “Little Voice” — a romantic dramedy executive produced by J.J. Abrams and the creative team behind the “Waitress” musical, Sara Bareilles and Jessie Nelson.
- “Losing Earth” — a series based on Nathaniel Rich’s New York Times magazine story and book about the history of climate activism.
- “Magic Hour” — a mystery series inspired by the real-life story of Hilde Lysiak, executive produced and directed by Jon M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”).
- “My Glory Was I Had Such Friends” — a series that reunites J.J. Abrams and Jennifer Garner (Garner will star, and both will executive produce), based on the Amy Silverstein memoir of the same name.
- “Pachinko” — a series based on the Min Jin Lee novel, a multi-generational saga about a Korean family.
- “See” — a science fiction drama written by Steven Knight (“Peaky Blinders”) and directed by Francis Lawrence (multiple “Hunger Games” sequels).
- “Shantaram” — A series based on the novel by Gregory David Robert, about a man who escapes from an Australian prison and ends up in Bombay.
- “Swagger” — a scripted series inspired by basketball star Kevin Durant’s life.
- “The Morning Show” — a drama about the world of morning TV, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell.
- “Time Bandits” — a reboot of the cult classic Terry Gilliam film, co-written and directed by Taika Waititi.
- Untitled Brie Larson series — a show featuring the “Captain Marvel” star, based on the real-life experiences of undercover CIA operative Amaryllis Fox.
- Untitled Colleen McGuinness series — a comedy series inspired by Curtis Sittenfeld’s short story collection “You Think It, I’ll Say It.”
- Untitled Damien Chazelle series — not much is known about the content of the series, but the “La La Land” director is expected to write and direct every episode of the first season.
- Untitled M. Night Shyamalan series — a thriller written by Tony Basgallop, with Shyamalan directing the first episode and executive producing.
- Untitled Oprah projects — Oprah Winfrey has signed a multi-year partnership to produce original content for Apple, though what kinds of content remains to be seen.
- Untitled Snoopy series — a short-form series starring Snoopy and focused on STEM, which is part of a larger “Peanuts” deal between Apple and Canadian broadcaster DHX Media.
- Untitled Richard Gere series — a drama based on the Israeli show “Nevelot.”
- Untitled Rob McElhenny/Charlie Day series — a comedy from the team behind “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” with McElhenny playing an employee at a video game studio.
- Untitled Simon Kinberg/David Weil series — a science fiction series co-written by Kinberg, a longtime writer and producer of “X-Men” movies.
That will no doubt monopolize the majority of the event, but Apple could well have some surprises up its sleeve. The leading contender for a second announcement is the company’s long-rumored subscription news service. As with its movie/TV plans, Apple’s reportedly been talking to a number of different publishers to launch what some are referring to as a “Netflix for News,” which would expand on its acquisition of digital magazine app Texture.
Reports have noted, however, that many outlets are less than thrilled about revenue share that would come with the service’s paid tier. Still, some big publishers, including The Wall Street Journal, are said to already be on-board for launch.
A third major rumor finds the company launching a consumer credit card through a partnership with Goldman Sachs. The investment giant’s CEO is reportedly planning to attend the event in order to launch a co-branded card.
Everything kicks off at 10am Pacific on Monday, March 25. TechCrunch will be on-hand to bring you the news as it breaks.
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