The tech giant is entering a field where Amazon and Netflix have seen success; up next: a drama featuring Dr. Dre
The world’s most valuable company is getting serious about content.
Apple is planning to spend about $1 billion on acquiring and producing original content in the next year, ramping up its nascent efforts to compete for consumer eyeballs. The Cupertino, Calif.-based giant could use the funds to produce up to 10 television programs as it joins fellow tech companies Amazon and Netflix in the battle against traditional content providers like HBO, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Though Apple sits on a war chest of $261 billion, the $1 billion investment is relatively paltry compared to the sums its competitors are paying out for original shows. Netflix, which this week signed hit showrunner Shonda Rhimes to its stable, recently said that it had almost $16 billion in content spending obligations. HBO, the grand dame of high quality programming, spends about $2 billion annually on programming. The home of “Game of Thrones” and “The Sopranos” has said that it plans to increase its budget to ward off upstart rivals.
The company co-founded by the late Steve Jobs has already dipped its toe into original programming, albeit to mixed effect. Earlier this year, it debuted “Planet of the Apps,” a ‘Shark Tank’-esque reality TV show featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, will.i.am and Jessica Alba that has been widely panned. Last week, it premiered “Carpool Karaoke,” a 15 to 20-minute-long program pegged to a similarly named popular segment of James Corden’s “The Late Late Show.”
The two shows are currently only available on Apple Music, a somewhat clunky platform not originally designed for long form video that could have restricted the programs’ popularity. That said, there’s a history of the initial efforts by tech companies to enter the entertainment sphere not working out as planned. Netflix’s first original movie, a sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” has a poor 19% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And while Amazon is now acclaimed for dramas like “Transparent,” it’s also produced its fair share of duds.
That said, help is on the way. Earlier this summer, Sony Pictures’ TV heads Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who greenlit the likes of “Breaking Bad,” moved from Hollywood to Cupertino as co-heads of global video programming. This week, they also brought on Matt Cherniss, a TV veteran who’s worked at Fox and Warner Bros.
Apple will soon release “Vital Signs,” a six-episode drama featuring Dr. Dre that is its first scripted show.
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