Apple’s TV strategy becomes clearer as top stars line up to pitch content

“The world’s biggest company is officially taking meetings as everyone from Jennifer Aniston to Steven Spielberg salivates over selling the first big show,” Lacey Rose reports for The Holywood Reports. “Apple’s Los Angeles-based execs are busy lining up the first batch of potential shows. In recent weeks, Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, poached from Sony Television in June to spearhead Apple’s content acquisitions and video strategy, have been spotted all over town making their pitch to agents and studio executives.”

“Though Apple isn’t looking to replicate the pace or scale of rival Netflix’s $6 billion annual spend, it is eager to be in the prestige content business in a significant way,” Rose reports. “Per multiple sources briefed on the company’s plans, its executives are looking for big, smart, splashy dramas, with at least one citing Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and The Crown as models.”

“Already, the Cupertino company’s Culver City outpost has leap-frogged much of its competition in the Hollywood hierarchy, with multiple agents acknowledging that any project they would take to Netflix or HBO is now taken to Apple as well. Some credit the company’s brand cachet for its overnight status; others cite the $260 billion-plus in cash on its balance sheet, which should translate to a content budget of at least $1 billion in year one. The credibility of Van Amburg and Erlicht is said to play a considerable role as well,” Rose reports. “According to multiple sources, Apple had hoped that Ryan Murphy’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest origin series, Ratched, starring Sarah Paulson as the diabolical nurse, could have been among its first shows. Van Amburg and Erlicht, who sat with the prolific producer to discuss the project this summer, made a rich, multiseason offer. But, like Hulu, Apple ultimately was outbid by Netflix.”

“Outside of the swift, ambitious play for Ratched, Apple’s approach has been slow and deliberate, by design. Though the company has been deluged with nearly every script in town, knowledgeable sources say execs there pass on most of them,” Rose reports. “At press time, the company had bids out on only a handful of projects, including an update of Steven Spielberg’s 1980s sci-fi, horror, fantasy anthology series, Amazing Stories, and a morning show drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, according to several involved.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s certainly nice to see Apple finally getting serious about original content, however late they may be. Apple definitely has the resources to extremely quickly cover the ground that been ceded so far via clueless dithering and mismanagement.

Apple should use their cash pile to create some much needed leverage to finally get their Apple TV subscription bundle(s) up and running even if all they do is flash their cash around. — MacDailyNews, January 14, 2016

Cook should consider bidding for and winning NFL Sunday Ticket away from Direct TV, buying rights to Premiere League and La Liga games, etc. and making them Apple TV exclusives. Go directly to the sports leagues with boatlods of cash. Maybe that’ll grease the wheels. It’ll certainly move a bunch of Apple TV boxes around the world in short order.MacDailyNews, May 6, 2014

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  1. “Prestige Content?” wtf is that?

    Programming, no matter how good, that is relegated to Apple TV owners or, worse, Apple Music (!?) subscribers is reaching no audience.

    Netflix has been successful at competing with broadcast/cable TV precisely because they built a demand for a solid product (movie rental), established a customer base, and then were able to draw quality content creators to develop for their audience. Then the flush-cycle takes over and the content draws even more audience.

    You can’t start with no distribution, no customers, no viewers, no platform, launch quality programming and expect anyone to see it.

    1. Waste of time and money, stars or content have nothing to do with owning a Mac, iPad, iPhone, they are the best most enjoyable tools for the job.

      Ask Sony what sucking up to content parasites does to your hardware design in the long term.

    2. Maybe Apple is considering doing something similar to Amazon Studios and also branch off into movies that show at cinemas. Which then could be exclusively be streamed from Apple after the run.

      1. There is a massive difference between commissioning original content and buying the rights to material that others have developed.

        If you own it, you control how it’s distributed and you also earn rights from spin-offs and merchandising. If Apple commissioned a hugely popular series, it wouldn’t do any harm to screen it in cinemas initially and then offer it for streaming via Apple TV soon after. It could also decide if or when to allow it to be shown on TV channels and would benefit financially when that happens.

        If you buy rights to programming that others have developed, they may decide to increase the fees for any future series. It’s not unknown for the broadcasting rights for a successful series to double from one year to the next and double again the next year.

        Obviously the risks are greater when you create original programming, but Apple is a company that has got where it is by taking immense risks and now has so much cash in the bank that it could afford to lose a few billion on failed projects and still be in fine shape. The upside is that the rewards can be massive, even by the sort of standards of financial success that Apple is accustomed to.

  2. If Apple wanted to think different they would develop differential content. Shows that could have a MA, 14, or PG rating depending on the users preferences. My problem with most of the original content on Netflix and Amazon is that most of it contains nudity, drug use, and explitives. I understand such a model might offend the artistic license of some screenwriters and directors, but it would be a welcome addition to many consumers.

    1. I think Netflix and Amazon already have categories of original content that would fit MA, G, PG, etc. They both produce original content for kids which I doubt would have nudity, drug use and expletives. Amazon Fire Kids edition is pretty well locked down to filter content. Perhaps Apple could have a Kids edition iPad to help parents manage the content that is accessible to them.

  3. In my opinion one of the BEST offerings of exclusive content for AppleTV was the iTunes Music Festival which was recently unceremoniously cancelled. For 10 years that annual event was a spectacular piece of programming that I looked forward to. Don’t know why. Has Apple decided that music is now passe.

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