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Apple has in recent months been doubling-down on its efforts to create original, quality content for the Apple TV and Apple Music — but the company’s latest move may arguably represent its boldest effort yet. According to a report published this morning by The Wall Street Journal, the Silicon Valley tech-giant has set aside a “war chest” of nearly $1 billion, which sources familiar with the company’s plans say will be used exclusively to either procure or produce original video content over the course of the next year.
The massive sum of money puts Apple in a prime position to compete with original content produced by companies like Amazon and Netflix; the former of which spent roughly the same amount in 2013 to produce hit shows including The Man in the High Castle, Alpha House, and Creative Galaxy. Of course, while $1 billion certainly seems like a lot of money, it’s actually about half of what HBO spent in 2016 to create its line-up of original programming; and so it’s unlikely that Apple is looking to directly compete with the bigger players in the TV space, but rather forge its own path forward.
According to WSJ’ sources, Cupertino could produce as many as 10 original television shows utilizing its 10-digit cash pile, which is expected to be controlled almost exclusively by Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg — the former Sony Pictures executives Apple hired earlier this summer. Another integral force in the decision-making process will be Matt Cherniss — the former President of cable TV-giant, WGN America, who Apple hired earlier this week to oversee its video production unit. Apple’s new hires have reportedly been meeting with a variety of Hollywood agents and studio executives this summer to determine what kind of in-development content the iPhone-maker could buy or produce, but no deals have been etched in stone yet.
What types of shows Apple could produce or purchase the rights to remains unknown at this point, too, however it’s likely that the company will branch out from its current slate of ‘Reality TV’ shows — particularly in light of the growing popularity of shows like HBO’s Game of Thrones, and Netflix’ drama/fantasy/horror series, Stranger Things. Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke, Apple’s first TV shows for Apple Music, have been relatively modest efforts in terms of their size, scale, and talent; and they’ve also been met with lukewarm reception from viewers so far.