After years as the world's largest technology company, Apple may soon venture into the media business with original programming, according to a report fromVariety.
According to Variety'ssources, the technology giant "has held preliminary conversations in recent weeks with executives in Hollywood to suss out their interest in spearheading efforts to produce entertainment content." The company is looking to grow a production and development division in the next several months to begin operation some time in 2016. The goal: producing movies and TV series in a challenge to Netflix and Amazon Prime, which have grown exponentially in the last several years.
This is a big move for Apple. With even TV networks like HBO and CBS exploring stand-alone streaming services to capture every millisecond of an audience's attention, Apple won't sit idly by while upstart media firms like Netflix or even Spotify encroach on the companies nascent offerings (like Apple Music).
But it's also big for us as consumers. After all, the new 'Golden Age' of television that gave us Breaking Bad and Mad Men owes some of its luster to the binge-watching glory of streaming services. Netflix has produced some fantastic original programming in Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards, which took home seven Emmys in 2015. Amazon picked up 12 nominations to Netflix's 34 for this year's awards. Even prestige dramas like Game of Thrones and True Detective have given American audiences a thirst for unique, creative storytelling. Fierce competition between Netflix, Amazon and Hulu Plus have resulted in a veritable content arms race. With Apple in the mix, we'll be treated to an entirely new creative vision in a slate of programming delivered direct (and ideally little cost) to our ubiquitous Apple devices.
While many television executives express anxiety over the sudden glut of amazing TV, it's indicative of the American consumer's insatiable appetite for content. Showtime president David Nevins described the average consumer as such to the New York Times: “No matter how much they like whatever show they’re watching right now, they’re saying, ‘What else should I be watching?’ They want more." Hopefully, the competition between companies like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu (and maybe Apple) to carve out fragile fiefdoms of audience attention will yield more variety and choice for couch potatoes everywhere. The Golden Age may just be the start.
We hope, at least.Variety's report notes that the executives examining Apple's original content ambitions are reporting directly to Eddy Cue, Apple’s "point man on all content-related matters, from its negotiations with programmers for Apple TV to its recent face-off with Taylor Swift." Cue's own tastes are relatively inscrutable, and the only thing we can glean about potential Apple programming is that the company :is said to have made an unprecedented bid to secure the stars of 'Top Gear' when they exited their BBC series earlier this year," according to Variety. Amazon ended up winning the bidding war for 'Top Great' stars Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond in July in a deal that netted Clarkson $36 alone. This may be a bit of a rocky start for Apple Originals.
Time will tell if Apple decides to start cooking up the next Breaking Bad or reverse engineer a hit out of Mr Robot. But one thing is sure: Cue hated Alex Gibney's "Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine" documentary on the quixotic Apple co-founder. So maybe don't expect yet another Steve Jobs biopic anytime soon — at least, from Apple.
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