Apple proves it’s ready to dominate the streaming wars

Apple’s big product event today was all about iPhones, iPads and the latest generation of its smartwatch – but make no mistake, it also underlined Apple’s increasingly aggressive drive to dominate streaming.

Apple wasted no time on Tuesday showcasing its burgeoning and award-winning roster of originals on Apple TV Plus, with Apple CEO Tim Cook kicking off the “California Streaming” event with a culmination of fall premieres and upcoming titles. Cook winked at the more than 130 wins and over 500 award nominations for the service’s original movies and series since its launch in 2019, taking the time to specifically announce the success of critical darling Ted Lasso, which recently garnered a record 20 Emmy nominations. (Apple TV Plus had a total of 35 nominations across all of its titles, which is pretty impressive for a service less than two years old.)

For a hardware event that didn’t have too much to share beyond what’s coming to Apple TV Plus in the near future, much of which has already been made public, Apple’s decision to cancel a significant portion of the time to spotlight its upcoming list of content once again that it’s serious about growing its streaming service. And Apple is reportedly willing to swing even bigger as it continues to expand its franchises and originals.

Citing a source familiar with the matter, The information reported last week that the company “plans to significantly increase its production of new TV shows and movies to at least one a week.” To promote its titles, Apple could spend more than $500 million marketing the service, The information reported, citing a separate source.

Apple isn’t just expanding its library. The company is launching new ways for its users to stream content from devices within its ecosystem, with SharePlay being one of the most exciting of these features coming to Apple devices with iOS 15 — though it won’t debut with the initial rollout, but in instead in a future update. Still, SharePlay, a watch party tool that allows Apple users to stream content from both Apple and other services together in real time, was teased during Tuesday’s product event.

And it seems that Apple has also been busy expanding this feature ahead of its official launch. When it was announced in June, fewer than a dozen apps would support the tool, including Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, HBO Max, Hulu, MasterClass, Paramount Plus, Pluto TV, TikTok, and Twitch. That list had expanded since Tuesday’s launch, with Comedy Central, Showtime, Spotify, Starz and more appearing in a slide about SharePlay partners for video and music streaming. Presumably, this list will continue to grow before the feature’s official debut. Apple told The edge in June, SharePlay will be available to any streaming partner that wants to support it.

Despite all its accolades, Apple still has several hurdles it will have to overcome if it hopes to tackle streaming kings like Netflix and Disney. The library needs to get bigger and faster if it wants to keep subscribers after their free trial is over. It will also have to find a way to drum up more fanfare for its series to get viewers excited before they’re debuting on the service (both things that it sounds like Apple is already working on). In many ways, the kind of hype we saw at today’s event is: required to advance the service.

But if Cook’s enthusiastic praise for Apple’s originals so far is any indication, Apple is just getting started. And the company’s deep pockets and software integrations aimed at making streaming accessible more than prove it.