Apple’s interest in the TV space has been nothing short of a jumbled mess, in part because the company can’t seem to decide whether it wants to dive in head first and invest in original content that people actually want to watch. Recently, Apple introduced its first original show, a largely lambasted tech-oriented reality series called Planet of the Apps. Of course, Apple’s unfamiliarity with how TV in the modern era works was on full display as Apple forced users actually interested in the show to jump through a number of hoops in order to watch it, unless of course you were an Apple Music subscriber.
That said, Apple finally seems to be picking up the pace. A little bit more than a week ago, word surfaced that Apple hired Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg — two former Sony executives — to spearhead the company’s original video efforts. Notably, some of the shows released during their tenure include bonafide classics such as The Shield and Breaking Bad. Suffice it to say, Apple finally has executives on board who actually understand the TV landscape.
In the wake of Erlicht and Van Amburg landing at Apple, Business Insider has an interesting piece up which details some of the reasons why Apple’s TV efforts thus far have been underwhelming, to say the least.
Part of the problem, the report claims, is that Apple’s Eddy Cue doesn’t seem to realize that content creators don’t need Apple at all.
“Eddy [Cue] is extremely smart,” a former Apple Music staffer said, but Cue is “very aggressive” in negotiations with people outside Apple. “In that area , Eddy negotiates like they need Apple. Not everybody is on board that they need Apple.” With the music industry, Apple had a lot more leverage than with TV, this person explained.
“They were trying TV stuff, but things would always fall through with networks,” another former Apple Music employee said. This person said that everyone in Apple Music had a great deal of respect for Cue, and that he was a smart guy, but that he could be overbearing in negotiations (“like a dictator” was the exact phrasing).
Apple may be able to play hardball when securing contracts with component suppliers who desperately want Apple’s business, but Apple doesn’t enjoy the same type of pull when it comes to TV. After all, with avenues like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and HBO to choose from, Apple is far from the only game in town. Indeed, Apple at this point is negotiating from a point of weakness because, let’s be honest, landing a show on Apple Music at this point is far less prestigious than an HBO or Netflix original series.
One thing is clear, if Apple wants to really make a splash in the TV space, it should cede more power to folks who actually understand the market. Thankfully, the recent hires of Erlicht and Van Amburg suggests that Apple is finally starting to recognize that.