Apple will throw $1 billion at original programming over next year

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To compete with Netflix, Apple's ready to pull its wallet out.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple is reportedly preparing a $1 billion “war chest” which it will spend on acquiring or producing original content over the next year.

That sum is around half of what HBO spent on production last year. The jewel in HBO’s crown is Game of Thrones, which it has aired since 2011. Apple SVP Eddy Cue is reportedly aiming for Apple to offer up to ten new shows, which could rival Game of Thrones in scope.

Can Apple turn it around?

So far, Apple’s original content has been mildly disappointing. While it has acquired some interesting and critically well-received documentaries on the film festival circuit, these have tended to be narrowly music-focused in scope — which makes sense given that they are designed to sell Apple Music, and appeal to the same audience as its Beats 1 radio station.

Of Apple’s “original” shows, the company has so far debuted Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke, both of which fall under the reality TV genre. In both cases, they have failed to meet with critical acclaim, and have been criticized for being overly safe and scripted.

Recently, however, Apple has been ramping up its hirings to try and establish itself as a force to be reckoned with. The company’s recent hirings include a pair of former Sony execs, who previously helped bring to the screen shows including AMC’s Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, and Netflix’s The Crown. Apple has also hired former WGN America and Tribune Studios chief Matt Cherniss, who will work under the pair.

Whether this is enough to turn things around, and make Apple an original programming giant to rival Netflix and Amazon, remains to be seen. Having money to throw at projects certainly helps, but lack of money on-screen hasn’t been the failing of Apple’s original TV shows thus far. The question is whether Apple has the vision to develop the original content people will get excited about. Or whether it’s just going to wind up being more of the same.

Source: WSJ