The moment the media and technology industries have been expecting for years may finally be arriving: Apple is exploring getting into the original programming business.
Sources indicate the Cupertino, Calif., colossus has held preliminary conversations in recent weeks with executives in Hollywood to suss out their interest in spearheading efforts to produce entertainment content. The unit putting out the feelers reports into Eddy Cue, who is Apple’s point man on all content-related matters, from its negotiations with programmers for Apple TV to its recent faceoff with Taylor Swift.
An Apple representative declined comment.
The scale of Apple’s ambitions vary depending on whom is asked, but one high-level executive who talked with the company said the goal is to create development and production divisions that would churn out long-form content to stream in a bid to compete with Netflix. Apple is hoping to put a headhunting firm on those hires in the coming months, according to source, with the goal of being in operation next year. Unknown is whether the focus is on TV series, movies — or both.
Other sources described the company’s exploration as more of a flirtation, though pointed to one recent sign that an escalation of interest is clear: Apple is said to have made an unprecedented bid to secure the stars of “Top Gear” when they exited their BBC series earlier this year. But Amazon ended up winning the bidding war for Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond in July.
The prospect of Apple going Hollywood has been bandied about for at least as long as the decade that has passed since Steve Jobs joined hands with the studios to make TV shows and movies available on iTunes. Given the often fractious relationship between the media and technology sectors, there’s often been curiosity as to why Apple doesn’t just build its own content capabilities, if not acquire a studio outright.