According to Bloomberg, Apple is taking a distinctly different path with its streaming TV series than those of HBO Now or Showtime. The sources for the report — which include Hollywood producers and other industry insiders who have spoken with the company in recent months — paint a picture of a very conservative company that is making slow progress.
They say Apple has expressed a preference for uplifting, family-friendly shows and isn’t interested in other types of pitches — even those from prestigious artists like Gravity‘s Alfonso Cuarón – because they don’t fit that mold.
Carpool Karaokebased on CBS’ segment The Late Late Show with James Corden, was supposed to premiere on Apple Music in April, but it didn’t. The series came out in August instead. The Bloomberg report indicates the show was postponed because the first cuts included swearing and “references to vaginal hygiene.”
This report contradicts some of what we’ve seen before — for example, The Hollywood Reporter said in February of last year that a series starring Dr. Drehelmed would contain an orgy series. But a lot can change in this business in a year and a half, especially with new executives in the mix. More recently, news broke that Apple has picked up a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s great storieswhich may be more family-friendly.
It was widely reported that Apple was planning to start scripted TV series in January. Apple then hired Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, presidents of Sony Pictures Television, perhaps best known for… Breaking Bad, to develop new TV content. Apple’s TV content will have a budget of $1 billion over the next year (though not all of it will go into production) — albeit significant, that’s nowhere near Netflix’s $8 billion. Bloomberg says Erlicht and Van Amburg plan to hire 70 staffers, “including development managers, publicists and marketers,” based out of Apple’s Culver City office in Los Angeles.
While the report suggests that certain individuals in Hollywood have left meetings unimpressed by Apple’s conservatism, that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong decision. iOS devices are commonly used by young children and in many different cultural communities with many value systems. As with broadcast television, it can make sense to keep content as widely accessible as possible.
Furthermore, Apple is clearly not trying to compete with Netflix. Neither his investment nor his content selections suggest that; in fact, the report states that Apple wants to improve, not replace, its users’ existing viewing habits. That could mean that the video content is intended to complement your Netflix subscription.
Competition in the edgy, prestige genre is extremely fierce, with viable offerings from Netflix, HBO, Showtime, Starz, Amazon, Hulu, AMC, and more. Netflix has invested in family-friendly shows, but it’s still not strong enough to move many families away from traditional cable packages. Apple may be well positioned to enter the streaming TV market there, as leaders are not yet entrenched.
In any case, Apple’s strategy as reported here contradicts current trends. No one who follows Apple closely should find that surprising.