Apple poaches Sony TV executives to lead major push into original content

“Apple Inc. has poached two top Hollywood television executives from Sony Corp. to spearhead an ambitious push into the original-programming business,” Tripp Mickle and Joe Flint report for The Wall Street Journal. “Jamie Ehrlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who oversaw Sony Pictures Television productions such as ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘The Crown,’ will join Apple in new positions as co-heads of video programming world-wide, Apple said. They will report to Senior Vice President Eddy Cue, who oversees Apple’s $24 billion services business, which includes iTunes and its $10-a-month streaming-music service.”

“Original content has skyrocketed over the past five years as Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc., CBS Corp. and others vie for viewers who are increasingly dropping cable subscriptions in favor of streaming services,” Mickle and Flint report. “The departures of Mr. Erlicht and Mr. Van Amburg represent a major blow for Sony Pictures Entertainment, which wrote down $1 billion in February due to its movie-studio woes. The two executives are well-regarded for their ability to identify TV programs and played a critical role in turning Sony’s television business into a formidable Hollywood player by developing shows like NBC’s ‘The Blacklist’ and FX’s ‘Rescue Me.'”

To date, “Apple’s limited programming and its decision to put it on a music service rather than building a TV service sowed confusion in Hollywood,” Mickle and Flint report. “The executives will have to sort through questions including whether Apple will launch a new TV-subscription service, as it has long desired. If that happens, they also will have to determine if subscribers could buy both music and TV services at a discounted price.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Better late, than never.

Apple’s press release, verbatim:

Apple today announced that Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, two of television’s most creative and successful executives, are joining Apple in newly created positions overseeing all aspects of video programming. Erlicht and Van Amburg will lead video programming worldwide, reporting to Eddy Cue. They join Apple from Sony Pictures Television where they have served as presidents since 2005, and have been responsible for some of the most popular and widely acclaimed programming of the past decade, including favorites such as Breaking Bad and its spinoff Better Call Saul, The Crown, Rescue Me and many more.

“Jamie and Zack are two of the most talented TV executives in the world and have been instrumental in making this the golden age of television,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “We have exciting plans in store for customers and can’t wait for them to bring their expertise to Apple — there is much more to come.”

“It will be an honor to be part of the Apple team,” said Jamie Erlicht. “We want to bring to video what Apple has been so successful with in their other services and consumer products — unparalleled quality.”

“Apple has a relentless focus on delighting customers with their products,” said Zack Van Amburg. “We will bring that same intention to Apple’s programming and we could not be more excited about what lies ahead.”

Erlicht and Van Amburg have served as presidents of Sony Pictures Television since 2005. Under their leadership, the studio’s slate of original primetime series more than tripled, growing to include many of TV’s most acclaimed shows. They have extensive expertise producing television for global audiences and creating programming for a wide range of services including shows for Amazon, Hulu and Netflix. Their incredible roster of programs — which have won 36 Emmys and dozens of Golden Globes, AFI and WGA awards — have included fan favorites such as Better Call Saul, The Blacklist, Bloodline, Breaking Bad, The Crown, Damages, The Goldbergs, Justified, Preacher, Rescue Me, The Shield, Sneaky Pete and many more.

Source: Apple Inc.

22 Comments

  1. Two run of the mill Hollywood guys reporting to Clueless Eddie Cue.
    The Goldbergs- one of their accomplishments mentioned was a retread of a late 1940s- early 50’s TV show that if memory serves was moved over from Radio. With a C.V. Like that maybe we will see retreads of Gunsmoke, Your Show of Shows, I Love Lucy and Toast of the Town.

    1. You noticed the Goldbergs, but didn’t notice Breaking Bad, The Blacklist, The Shield… If whatever they bring to Apple in any way resembles any of those, Apple made the right choice.

  2. “Newly created” executive positions reporting to Eddy Cue. Thank heaven, this takes some of the cruel and debilitating workload off Mr. Cue’s shoulders. We’re sure to start seeing an avalanche of original television and Vimeo content, you betcha!

  3. This has the stench of Eddie Cue written all over it. I’m really not interested in Apple (nor any other tech companies for that matter) as a production company or as a cable company. Whatever, Eddie.

        1. What is more valuable iOS (mobile OS) or a Map program (who do you think is responsible for the early release beta?), and judging by the software releases since, Tim Cook, Cueless and Ive have done more damage by far. Hiring studio Parasites will not work.

  4. Any guesses on what the first storyline will be… I’d expect much like HBO, Apple will force alternative lifestyle characters and alternative relationships into scripts at far greater levels (percentages) than what we see in the real world. Push the narrative. Case in point… True Blood.

        1. when it comes to entertainment which will increasingly feed into AR/VR I suspect that may very well become a factor, loss leading maybe not quite, but like many other moves ie ApplePay with little innate direct initial profit in its own right. But it is there to plug into the potential. For Its where it all leads that’s important and presently streaming media is yes, as difficult to work out that exact future as much as its going to be nonetheless absolutely a massive factor in future earnings potential in mobile no matter what that blurry form takes when it does come into true focus. One can only hope that the delays might at least given them time to at least focus on what needs to be achieved now rather than the confusion that has swept the company re products for far too long.

    1. The problem with Apple and Hollywood is simple, Apple doesn’t want to give up their pot of gold, you don’t need to hire insider Hollywood parasites to figure that out.

  5. Glacial. how long has it been obvious that this is the only serious route to obtaining what they require for AppleTV especially once the content deals came to nothing. Maybe back then they thought that the providers would cave in with no serious players dominating. What a difference a few years make and its difficult to see how Apple can ever be anything but a bit player in the short to medium term. As for their influence to get deals done until this gets off the ground they are in a far weaker position than when this all started, unlike in music they really aren’t needed for the whole concept to become massive.

  6. Sony Pictures is starting to concentrate more on theatrical releases again, but even so this is unexpected. There’s plenty of TV production going on. I wonder if the departure of Michael Lynton means there’s replacement talent coming in, so these two decided to jump when Eddy Cue came knocking. Time will tell if they’ve made the right decision. Sony Pictures is going to make some serious money this year looking at the release slate, and now that Sony Electronics isn’t bleeding cash all over the place a lot of that money can be invested back into the studio rather than propping up other Sony companies.

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