Apple is making a billion-dollar bet on its own on-demand television service that could launch as soon as 2019.

The company has signed up 12 new shows to the project so far with big stars such as Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and Kristen Wiig already on board, according to the Daily Mail.

The streaming platform, which will rival popular services Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, is backed by a budget that is set to top US$1 billion ($1.3b) and is predicted to launch in March 2019, according to a new report.

Apple is constructing a 128,00-square-foot headquarters for its new entertainment division, called Apple Worldwide Video, in Culver City, California.


The new team has a workforce of 40 employees, the New York Times reports.

The company has divisions for "adult dramas, children's shows and Latin American and European programming."

Since October, Apple has bought a dozen projects - nine of which have been green-lit for a full series.

The new shows, backed by a budget that is set to top US$1b, will launch sometime between March and summer 2019.

They include a psychological thriller by The Sixth Sense director M. Night Shyamalan as well as a drama series from La La Land director Damien Chazellae.

Hollywood stars Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon will team up for an as-yet untitled series about a network morning show, according to the report.

Programmes include a new drama series from La La Land (pictured) director Damien Chazellae. Photo / Supplied
Programmes include a new drama series from La La Land (pictured) director Damien Chazellae. Photo / Supplied

Apple has also revived Steven Spielberg's critically acclaimed 1985 anthology series Amazing Stories and has ordered a space drama from Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore.

The New York Times says the company is also working on projects with comedienne Kristen Wiig and Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer.


The programming would only be available on a subscription channel, most likely bundled with the company's existing Apple Music streaming service.

Last June, Apple lured away longtime TV executives Jaime Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg from Sony - the studio behind Breaking Bad and The Crown.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple had given the pair US$1b to spend on original shows during the next year.

The company's interest in transforming television has been an open secret for years, but Hollywood has so far spurned Apple's efforts to make itself an indispensable digital middleman for video.

This year, Apple released its first two original series - Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke - on its Apple Music service, which has 27 million subscribers.

Neither show has generated much buzz or critical acclaim.

Apple is still experimenting in TV, said Gene Munster, a longtime Apple watcher and managing partner with the research and venture capital firm Loup Ventures.

"In five years, I bet Apple will either be investing US$10b a year in content or zero. It's going to be one or the other," said Munster.

The company faces an uphill struggle against industry leader Netflix, which already has plans to spend up to US$8b on content in 2018.

The US streaming service, which has more than 100 million subscribers, looks likely to release at least 500 original shows this year.

In December, Disney announced a US$52b deal to buy 21st Century Fox, which could help power a Disney-branded streaming service.

Disney said last August it would pull its content from Netflix by 2019.