Yes, we can? Apple wants to sign Obama to a content deal


Obama at SXSW
President Obama wants to continue spreading his message.

Apple is reportedly battling with Netflix and Amazon to sign former President Barack Obama to a deal that would see him produce a high profile series of shows with wife Michelle Obama.

These shows will likely focus on the Obamas hosting conversations on a variety of topics, ranging from health care and climate change to nutrition. Unfortunately for Apple, it seems that Netflix may have this deal in the bag!

Negotiations with President Obama

According to the New York Times, Netflix is in “advanced negotiation” with the Obamas, although Apple and Amazon — both with their own original show production mandate — have also expressed interest.

“President and Mrs. Obama have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire,” Eric Schultz, a senior adviser to the former president, said this week. “Throughout their lives, they have lifted up stories of people whose efforts to make a difference are quietly changing the world for the better. As they consider their future personal plans, they continue to explore new ways to help others tell and share their stories.”

Right now, a Netflix agreement seems likely. Netflix is the most established of the three companies when it comes to original programming, which makes it a sensible pick if the goal is to reach as many viewers as possible.

On a personal level, Barack Obama has close ties to Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who is married to Nicole Avant, an activist who was Obama’s ambassador to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings attended state dinners while Obama was president.

Apple isn’t totally out in the cold, though. Despite not being allowed to use an iPhone while in office, Obama was pretty clearly a fan of Apple’s handsets, and professed to be a big user of the iPad.

He also met with both Steve Jobs and Tim Cook during his time in the Oval Office, while Cook has been an outspoken Democrat supporter and fundraiser.

Apple’s focus on original content

Apple has been steadily ramping up its focus on original content. The company reportedly plans to spend $1 billion developing original programming over the next year, with that figure likely to rise to somewhere north of $4 billion by 2022.

So far, Apple’s greenlit original scripted programming includes an Amazing Stories reboot from Steven Spielberg, a news-business comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, a sci-fi drama series from the show runner of Outlander, Are You Sleeping, a show about a Serial-style crime podcast that reopens a murder case, and a show based on the life of NBA star Kevin Durant.

On the non-fiction side, it recently signed a second season of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke show. It has also created the abysmal Planet of the Apps, while combing film festivals for (predominantly) music-themed documentaries.

You can’t always get what you want

Not all of Apple’s attempts to secure content have been successful, though. Earlier this year, Apple lost out to HBO on acquiring the rights to a new original TV series written by J.J. Abrams, his first since 2008’s Fringe.

Before that, it also lost out to Netflix when trying to sign Chris Rock to a content deal. Rock went on to sign a deal with Netflix worth $40 million for two stand-up specials.

Source: New York Times