Apple TV Plus may soon start streaming older TV shows and movies, according to a new report. Bloomberg (opens in new tab) says Apple has licensed some shows and movies as part of private conversations it's had with Hollywood content owners. Apple TV Plus launched in November, and it's been built entirely on original programming. This would represent a change in direction for Apple – but not an unwelcome one.
Bloomberg's sources say that Apple hasn't bought any major blockbusters or franchises for the service yet, though. The service's focus will apparently still be on original content.
Apple TV Plus has had its fair share of decent original shows, like the award-nominated The Morning Show, featuring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell. But launching without an archive of shows to watch from day one suggested a little misunderstanding of the appeal of streaming services. Netflix, after all, was built on content licensed from the major studios years before it started making original programming. Disney Plus managed to make such a big splash out of the gate because it arrived with a big archive of movies that its audience already liked.
Apple TV Plus has lacked that, but its low price ($4.99/£4.99) has made it a fairly inoffensive proposition, and Apple device owners got a year of the service for free.
We'd argue, though, that it's currently less essential than more expensive competitors like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, all of which offer a mix of great originals and archive shows we actually like watching.
It hasn't helped, either, that Apple TV still isn't available to download on PS4 or other games consoles.
Why would Apple TV Plus benefit from older shows and movies?
This year, Apple TV Plus has debuted a number of big original shows. They include Defending Jacob, a family/crime drama starring Chris Evans, parental comedy Trying with Rafe Spall and a reboot of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories anthology show. Our highlight, though, is Mythic Quest, a game development-themed comedy from the creators of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Still, older shows would give subscribers an excuse to use the service more regularly. Classic TV series can be like comfort food you enjoy over and over again, which is why so many big hitters from the past few decades fetch enormous licensing fees.
It's hard to figure out which big classic shows are left for Apple to pick up for the service. The likes of The Simpsons, Seinfeld, The Office, South Park and Friends have all been auctioned off to various streaming services on an exclusive basis in recent years.
Still, movies might have more potential. In 2017, it was reported (opens in new tab) that Apple was in the running for the distribution rights to the James Bond franchise (Universal won out). That's the sort of acquisition that would make a real impact, since Bond lacks a permanent streaming home.
Whatever Apple ends up with, more choice can only be a good thing for its streaming service's future.