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Netflix, beware: Apple lost the bid for ‘Top Gear’ but it’s working on in-house TV and movie projects

Updated Sep 1st, 2015 6:55AM EDT
Apple Netflix Top Gear Movies TV
Image: Reddit

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Soon after the BBC fired Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson, it became clear the highly praised TV show will move to a different home, even if that meant starting from scratch under a new brand. Netflix was at one point rumored to be the company offering a killer deal to Clarkson and his two co-hosts, James May and Richard Hammond, but Amazon eventually secured that contract.

Little did anyone know that Apple has been involved in those negotiations as well, looking to steer Clarkson, May and Hammond towards Cupertino. This appears to be part of a broader Apple strategy of better positioning itself in the TV ecosystem.

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The company is yet to comment anything on the matter – in fact, it refused to say anything about these rumors when asked by Variety – but it looks like internal teams reporting to iTunes digital content boss Eddy Cue are already in talks with executives in Hollywood to produce original content for Apple.

The details are rather sketchy, and it’s not clear what Apple plans to do with this particular type of business. One high-level executive who talked to Cupertino reps said that the goal is to create development and production divisions that would come up with long-form content that would compete directly with what Netflix, Amazon, and others are also doing.

In a way, Apple looking to produce its streaming shows and movies is similar to what the company is already doing with music. Spotify’s growing popularity convinced Apple to launch its music streaming service to compete better against the many companies offering the kind of alternative music access that started eroding revenue from iTunes music sales.

Apple might apply the same strategy to video streaming, choosing to offer customers original content alongside the movies and TV shows that are already available through iTunes.

It’s not clear at this time when Apple original content will be available on iTunes, but Variety says it’s not coming this year. It’s also not clear how Apple will price it, whether it’ll integrate it in its future cable-alternative offer coming to Apple TV, and whether it’ll offer users a Netflix-like subscription model for other iTunes content.

What’s clear is that Apple has the name, the brain and the cash to make such a project happen – read Variety’s exclusive story on this potentially exciting new Apple business endeavor at this link.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.