Apple Inc. AAPL 0.10% has been exploring opportunities to strengthen its upstart TV service, including deals for James Bond franchise-owner MGM Holdings Inc. and college sports rights, according to people familiar with the matter.

Executives at Apple met with representatives of MGM and the Pac-12 Conference this year as the tech giant considers ways to broaden the appeal of its Apple TV app and TV+, a $4.99 monthly service that launched last month with nine original programs. The streaming service anchors an updated TV app that offers subscriptions to Disney+ and HBO, with Apple getting a cut of sales.

Though the conversations with MGM and the Pac-12 were preliminary and have yet to reach an advanced stage, the talks show Apple’s openness to striking a multibillion-dollar content agreement in support of its TV service—even as it forges ahead with a preferred strategy of developing its own shows, these people said. A deal with the Pac-12 would be Apple’s first foray into live sports.

Apple is playing catch-up in a TV arms race with Amazon.com Inc. and others seeking to displace traditional cable operators as the dominant media service in people’s homes. Consumers have turned to services such as Netflix Inc. as they sever ties with cable operators. Amazon and Apple are looking to increase their revenue by selling subscriptions to their own streaming-video services and rival offerings from competitors.

Amazon Prime Video service, launched in 2006, has become a hub for an estimated $2.6 billion in subscription sales to channels such as Showtime and Starz, according to BMO Capital Markets. The company has netted those sales from customers drawn to an Amazon video service that offers original shows, licensed movies and National Football League games.