It’s long been known that Apple is aggressively eyeing Hollywood and original content, but now a New York Times report sheds more light on the company’s vigorous push into series programming.
According to the report, entertainment executives who met with Apple told the NYT that the company’s new programming has a planned rollout of sometime between March 2019 and summer 2019. Apple currently has a 40-person team working on Apple Worldwide Video where it creates original content, and is building a 128,000-square foot headquarters for its entertainment division in Culver City, California. Apple plans to expand its portfolio of shows and is opening divisions for adult dramas, children’s shows, and programming for Latin America and Europe.
Last August, The Wall Street Journal reported Apple would spend $1 billion acquiring and producing original TV shows over the next year. But, the NYT states that the company is on track to spend well more than that amount on programming, outspending both Facebook and YouTube in recent months. By comparison, Netflix is planning to spend $8 billion on original TV shows and films in 2018. There’s no indication yet of how Apple’s streaming service might work, but it will likely be a subscription service. Apple’s shows could be accessed through an app, or even Apple’s TV app, which also has access to content from services like HBO Now.
Unlike Netflix’s approach to create content for every possible taste, Apple is most likely chasing a binge-worthy hit. Last year, it poached TV executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, known for hit series Breaking Bad, from Sony Pictures Television. Amburg and Erlicht currently head Apple Worldwide Video.
Apple has made deals for 12 projects so far, and the company has already courted some big names to work on its rapidly expanding slate of original content. The projects include: the Steven Spielberg anthology Amazing Stories; a drama series from La La Land director Damien Chazelle; a psychological thriller series from M. Night Shyamalan; a space drama from Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore; a futuristic drama from the director of the Hunger Games films Francis Lawrence; and a drama series about a network morning show which will star Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. Apple will also reportedly work with Octavia Spencer on a drama series and Kirsten Wiig on a comedy show.
Of the 12 projects, nine have been aggressive “straight-to-series” orders, which skip traditional pilot episodes. Progress on some shows have been slow though: executive producer Bryan Fuller left Amazing Stories nearly two months ago and hasn’t been replaced, while the Aniston / Witherspoon drama Apple bought four months ago is expecting a draft of the script this week.
Though Apple looks to have some promising projects in the pipeline, in the past, the company has struggled with content creation. Its reality show Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke haven’t been well received.