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Apple was close to acquiring Ron Howard’s TV and Film production company, report claims

Apple TV Strategy

With Apple still struggling to map out a coherent strategy in the video streaming space, an interesting report from the Financial Times relays that the company was close to inking a deal with Imagine Entertainment, the famed Television and Movie production company started by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

According to the report, Apple’s negotiations with Imagine Entertainment were serious enough to warrant the involvement of high-level Apple executives such as Tim Cook and Eddy Cue.

The talks included a possible “first look” distribution deal of Imagine movies and television shows, as well as an investment by Apple — or even a full purchase. But, as with many other potential deals involving Apple, the discussions fizzled out.

For some additional context, Imagine Entertainment’s Television division has been behind hit shows such as Friday Night Lights, 24: Legacy and Empire. The company’s Film division is even more impressive, having backed popular films such as Backdraft, Apollo 13, 8 Mile, and American Gangster.

There’s no explanation as to why negotiations with Imagine Entertainment fell through, but a report from earlier in the week revealed that Apple’s “take it or leave it” attitude when it comes to big corporate acquisitions can often hamper the negotiation process.

Meanwhile, Apple’s content strategy remains a muddled mess. At the same time that Eddy Cue claims that Apple isn’t interested in purchasing content or competing with the likes of Netflix, we’ve seen trailers for two new Apple programs just this past week, Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps.

This approach has many in Hollywood scratching their heads. Apple’s rounds of meetings with various entertainment industry players suggest it has not yet decided what its strategy should be.

What’s utterly bizarre about Apple’s lack of strategy is that it has more than enough money to get into the original content game and make a big splash. As we’ve highlighted before, Apple could produce one season of each of the following shows for just $538 million.

  • Breaking Bad
  • Game of Thrones
  • House of Cards
  • Orange is the new Black
  • Arrested Development
  • Mad Men
  • Marco Polo
  • The Wire
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Sons of Anarchy

In short, Apple has the financial security to throw lots of money at A-level writers and producers and actually get some solid content up and running. Indeed, if one looks at how quickly Netflix and Amazon managed to achieve success with their own original programming, it’s clear that Apple could succeed even as a late entrant so long as it has content that people would be willing to pay for.

Instead, Apple, as it stands today, has two shows that will likely do absolutely nothing for its video strategy (assuming it has one) or for Apple Music.

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.