It may be just a matter of months before Apple launches a TV subscription service that could make the US tech giant a serious competitor to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

According to The Information, three people familiar with the company’s plans have revealed that the new TV service is scheduled to launch in the US in the first half of 2019 before being rolled out globally to more than 100 countries.

CNBC reported earlier this month that Apple was preparing a new digital video service that will marry original content and subscription services from legacy media companies, but The Information’s sources add weight to speculation about Apple’s plans.

It is expected that Apple’s original programmes will be free for Apple device owners, but people will also be able to sign up for TV subscriptions from third-party networks, such as HBO.

That would make it a similar package to Amazon Prime Video whose subscribers can use the Amazon Channels feature to access third-party content in the US, UK, Germany and France.

However, while the Apple-created content would be made available to all viewers, the paid-for extras would vary from country to country, depending on licensing arrangements.

Sky, for example, has exclusive rights to broadcast HBO content in the UK, so Apple would not be able to show HBO programmes there, although British viewers may be able to subscribe to Now TV through the Apple service to access HBO content.

As previously reported by CNBC, Apple is said to have set aside $1bn to create and purchase content for Apple TV, but The Information’s sources added that it has now started to negotiate with broadcasters about what it would pay to carry their shows.

This further news of Apple’s plans underscores the dramatic changes taking place in the global TV market, especially in the US, where telecoms group AT&T has had to reveal that it lost nearly 300,000 pay-TV subscribers in the third quarter.

It comes also as a new WARC report this week warned that the trend towards subscription media means brands and agencies must reimagine the way they think about advertising.

Sourced from The Information, CNBC, Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff