Apple's building a massive TV studio, but shows reportedly won’t debut before 2019

And don't expect anything too dark.

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Over the past year, Apple has been stockpiling talent and content for what seemed to be the imminent launch of a new video services packed with choice programming from Reese Witherspoon, Steven Spielberg, Kristen Wiig, and M. Night Shyamalan. 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 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 be 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.

Prehaps 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 starting 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 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 family-friendly 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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