Global tech giant Apple is reportedly gearing up to spend US$1 billion on the acquisition and development of original television content over the next year, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
The report, citing anonymous individuals familiar with the matter, notes that Cupertino, California-headquartered Apple may be positioning itself to acquire and produce up to 10 high-caliber series that will live on its streaming-music service, Apple Music, or a new video-focused service.
The budget, according to the Journal, will be overseen by Hollywood veterans Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, both of whom moved over from Sony Pictures Television in June to join the iPhone maker’s Los Angeles offices and manage all aspects of video programming. Reporting to Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior VP of Internet software and services, Erlicht and Van Amburg – responsible for runaway hits Breaking Bad and its spinoff Better Call Saul – are slated to take over programming responsibilities from the Apple Music team.
Earlier this week, Apple confirmed that it had hired former WGN America and Tribune Studios president and GM Matt Cherniss to head development for the programming initiative and assist in discovering suitable high-quality programming.
Cue, who reports to Apple CEO Tim Cook and manages the direction for iTunes and Apple Music, will be overseeing Apple’s latest original content strategy push.
Apple representatives declined to comment.
Carving out a space in the original programming space could prove difficult for Apple. Even with an annual budget of $1 billion, Apple would be competing with such deep-pocketed premium content outlets as Netflix, Amazon and HBO.
Digital streaming behemoth Netflix is reportedly set to spend $7 billion on content in 2018, while Amazon Prime Video dropped roughly $4.5 billion in the current year on such programming as The Grand Tour and The Man in the High Castle, according to an estimate from JP Morgan. Time Warner’s HBO, meanwhile, reportedly spent nearly $2 billion on content in the year prior.
Apple first made moves into the originals space in 2015 when Cue and his senior team began meeting with high-level Hollywood executives in order to establish production and development divisions to create long-form content.
The moves were further bolstered by Apple’s commitment to original unscripted content when it launched the celebrity-heavy entrepreneurial competition Planet of the Apps (pictured) in June on Apple Music, and Carpool Karaoke, a spinoff from James Corden’s CBS late-night show feature, last week.