Apple’s sets its sights on Hollywood with plans for original content

Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc. is planning to build a significant new business in original television shows and movies, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that could make it a bigger player in Hollywood and offset slowing sales of iPhones and iPads.

These people said the programming would be available to subscribers of Apple’s $10-a-month streaming-music service, which has struggled to catch up to the larger Spotify AB. Apple Music already includes a limited number of documentary-style segments on musicians, but nothing like the premium programming it is now seeking.

The technology giant has been in talks with veteran producers in recent months about buying rights to scripted television programs. It also has approached experienced marketing executives at studios and networks to discuss hiring them to promote its content, said people with knowledge of the discussions.


In addition to TV, Apple indicated to these people that it is considering offering original movies, though those plans are more preliminary.

Executives at Apple have told people in Hollywood they hope to start offering original scripted content by the end of 2017.

Strikes me as an approach similar to Amazon’s. Amazon offers free video content with your Prime subscription. Pay for free shipping, we’ll sweeten the deal with a range of original, high quality content.

As far as I know, Amazon has not yet made any bundle deals for their content, corralling their offerings inside their ecosystem. Will Apple do the same? It certainly would swing customers away from Spotify towards Apple Music. And, if the video offerings were substantial enough, some customers would sign up for the video and look at the music as a nice side benefit.

  • Apple also has the advantage of Apple Music being present in far more countries than Amazon. Not only is Amazon retail only in a handful of countries, but they don’t have video in every country they’re in yet.

  • Very concerning. I do not want Apple making content. In a time where Apple is supposedly abandoning products and markets in order to focus you have to read this stuff.

    I’d rather Apple make an new AirPort router than a TV show.

    What is the point of this? To compete with Spotify, a company that can’t even turn a profit.

  • Brad Fortin

    “which has struggled to catch up to the larger Spotify AB”

    Going just a bit strong on the editorializing there, WSJ. “Oh no, an 18-month-old music service only has half as many paying customers as a 9-year-old music service, they must be struggling!” Right.

  • JimCracky

    Make computers that aren’t crummy. I don’t care about your movies. There’s too much crap on TV as it is. However, there are not many good computers. You used to make compelling devices. Now, you license carpool karaoke.

    Maybe you could teach Gwyneth Paltrow Electrical Engineering.

  • JimCracky

    Oh, and another thing. I am not a fan of Apple Music for a variety of reasons. But, it is not struggling. It has over 20 million paying subscribers. And, it grows every quarter. It has gained subscribers about 6.5 faster than Spotify in its 9.5 year history.

  • john doofus

    I hate this idea. There is no reason to believe Apple can make better TV shows and movies than HBO, Netflix, Amazon and all the other content providers do already. Tim Cook likes to talk about Apple’s “laser focus”, and then they go off and work on nonsense like Planet of the Apps.

    Really wish they’d just focus on making great and software.

  • rick gregory

    Eh. This feels like a distraction to me. Make great products. Ideally, pair them with equally great services.

    Sure, the counterargument is that the people doing this aren’t going to be the same as the people evolving Siri or designing a Mac Pro, but given Apple’s structure, this all funnels up to senior management and there’s only so much they can rally pay attention to.

    • john doofus

      Like you, I don’t buy the counterargument.

      Remember Tim Cook talking about “laser focus” and “all our products fit on one small table”?

  • Rederick

    Interesting but fundamentally flawed. Netflix and Amazon are on almost every device that connects to a television, and on every mobile device. Apple Music and iTunes content is limited to Apple devices and Windows machines (and maybe some Androids). If Apple wants to succeed as a content creator it will need to start providing Apple Music/Video apps onto Android, and all Smart TV platforms, and BluRay players, and maybe the Amazon Fire Stick and FireTV boxes. Nobody wants 10 different streaming media boxes (the Apple TV is one of the most expensive, and mostly boring outside the USA). Not a good move – concentrate on good hardware Apple.