Apple’s entrance into scripted originals dramatically inflates salaries for TV actors

“Apple’s arrival in the scripted originals space already is changing the price for top talent on the small screen,” Lesley Goldberg reports for The Hollywood Reporter. “The tech giant, estimated to enter the scripted genre with a budget of $1 billion in its first year, recently paid what sources say is upward of $1.25 million per episode to stars Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon for its 20-episode untitled morning-show drama. The eye-popping salaries also include fees for executive producing and points on the show’s backend. And that payday directly impacted the recently announced second season of HBO’s smash hit Big Little Lies, sources say.”

“Witherspoon and Kidman, say sources, received between $250,000 and $350,000 an episode for season one, plus exec producer fees and points off the show’s backend,” Goldberg reports. “Those numbers skyrocketed for season two not only because of the show’s success, but also because of the precedent of the massive payday Witherspoon scored from Apple.”

“Sources say the duo is getting in the $1 million-an-episode ballpark for season two, as well as points off the show’s backend and EP fees,” Goldberg reports. “Co-stars like Zoe Kravitz also are said to have scored significant bumps, with the actress’ total season-one salary of $380,000 jumping to $3 million for the sophomore run. Shailene Woodley, who earned $1.7 million for season one, is also said to be getting a sizable pay raise… Sums up one agent of the war for top talent in a landscape approaching 500 scripted shows: “If HBO pays Witherspoon her quote that Apple is paying, it inflates the whole ecosystem of TV actor salaries.””

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Good. It’s already playing out as we predicted:

Those who can wrap their heads around Apple’s massive cash mountain and the company’s unparalleled ability to generate cash can clearly see who the winner will be. The most talented producers, writers, directors, editors, actors, etc. are attracted to exactly what Apple has and makes in vast abundance: Cash. The king.

Like bears to honey, it’s happening already.

There will be a market for content that Apple will not want to put their name on. The also-rans that survive will do so by becoming the “skinamax” of the content streamers or by narrowly specializing and sharply focusing their branding.MacDailyNews, January 3, 2018

Apple orders ‘See’ series, a futuristic drama from ‘Hunger Games’ director – January 10, 2018
Life after iTunes: Apple’s big media challenge – January 9, 2018
Apple developing new original drama ‘Are You Sleeping’ starring Octavia Spencer – January 3, 2018
Three more Amazon Studios executives move to Apple – December 26, 2017
Apple orders space drama series from ‘Battlestar Galactica’ producer Ronald D. Moore – December 15, 2017
Apple gives Jennifer Aniston-Reese Witherspoon series a 2-season order, confirms Spielberg’s ‘Amazing Stories’ reboot – November 9, 2017
Apple outbids Netflix for show starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon – November 8, 2017
Apple eyes iconic studio as base for Hollywood production push; vying with Netflix for high-profile Jennifer Aniston drama – September 1, 2017
The magic and misdirection of Apple’s streaming strategy – August 18, 2017
Apple wants to spend $1 billion on 10 original TV shows over the next year – August 16, 2017
Former WGN America president Matt Cherniss joins Apple in latest TV push – August 15, 2017
Rivals leaving Apple behind as Apple TV remains stuck in a test pattern – August 8, 2017
Apple’s so-called TV ‘strategy’ continues to be an embarrassing joke – June 30, 2017
Apple poaches Sony TV executives to lead major push into original content – June 16, 2017
Apple’s Eddy Cue alienated cable providers and networks with an assertive negotiating style – report – July 28, 2016


  1. so many many steaming service subscriptions. so many. they’ve already become burdensome. between giving my attention to social media on my iphone and the mind-numbing number of movies and serials on netflix, amazon, hulu, hbo, curiosity stream, gaia and on and on not to mention traveling through the ether, which, i think i just mentioned, i hardly have time to attend to proper hygiene and good dietary protocols. what’s the answer. is it just good time management, cuz, if it is, wtf do i need a freaking coach, a coach app and does coach need a screen. do i need my eyes. sometimes, i just wanna get attacked by a grizzly like hugh whatshisname except i wanna get altogether eaten. i don’t have enough life to spend on constant entertainment. i don’t know who i am, anymore. sometimes, it’s so nice to turn everything off and read a book or meet a weird but unthreatening boy. there’s just too many markzuckerbergs in the world who don’t know me or you but who so want my attention, your attention. give me your goddamn attention. give it to me. give it to me, now. are you fkn listening to me. give me your eyes. ughh

      1. being human, having one’s own human life takes so much maintenance, so much discipline, that is, if you’re one who cares. i care, i think. i mean i don’t want to be the commodity.

  2. Nice that Apple’s entry has increased pay for actors with some work in their portfolios. New actors may also get a better chance with producers that have a budget that may not allow bidding for top name. Who knows, the next awards show may actually have a huge increase in new names.

  3. Bumpkins overpay when they meet a con-man, also.

    Apple is like a newly minted Private in the PX for the first time after getting paid- more money than they know how to handle.

    If the show flops- that price per episode is going to look really stupid.

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