Apple Eyes Original Content, But Looks to Avoid Expensive Bidding Wars With Netflix and Amazon
Apple has shown a willingness to buy projects that can help promote its services, but its interest in acquiring original content remains tepid, according to The Information. The report claims Apple is not interested in getting into billion-dollar bidding wars over projects with rivals such as Netflix and Amazon.
Apple bought an unscripted TV series based on James Corden's highly popular "Carpool Karaoke" segment to promote Apple Music, for example, while it is also planning an original TV series called Vital Signs, described as a dark semi-autobiographical drama starring Beats co-founder and Apple executive Dr. Dre.
Meanwhile, Apple reportedly met with representatives for comedian Chris Rock earlier this year about a potential video deal, although the discussions did not lead anywhere and Rock ultimately signed a reported $40 million deal with Netflix to deliver two stand-up specials airing in 2017.
Apple's lack of original content is seen as a disadvantage for the company, potentially hurting its efforts to expand the Apple TV's market share.
Not having a slate of originals hurts Apple’s ability to differentiate its video-streaming offerings against rivals like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon, each of which now make their own shows that get them lots of attention, while also licensing reruns from TV networks. That could stymie Apple’s ability to increase market share for its streaming video device, the Apple TV, and lock more people into the Apple ecosystem.
Apple has sent mixed signals to Hollywood about its interest in original programming over the past few years, the report adds.
Apple has reportedly met with TV producers and Hollywood studios about developing original TV shows to offer exclusively on iTunes, but services chief Eddy Cue later said Apple is "not in the business of trying to create TV shows." Instead, he said Apple is willing to offer producers suggestions and guidance where possible.
Independent of its original content efforts, Apple has reportedly been getting more aggressive at landing movies for iTunes. The company was reportedly in discussions with the producers of the Michael Moore documentary "TrumpLand" very early in the process, for example, to secure an iTunes exclusivity window.
Apple got the right to offer “TrumpLand” on iTunes earlier than other online video services, in exchange for prominently promoting it on the iTunes homepage, according to a person involved in the discussions. Having Apple’s promotional commitment is significant enough to help get a movie financed, this person said.
Key players in Apple's content discussions are said to be Jimmy Iovine, along with Apple Music executives Larry Jackson and Robert Kondrk.