Apple's plan to challenge Netflix comes into clearer view - TechCentral

Apple’s plan to challenge Netflix comes into clearer view

Steven Spielberg. Image: Gage Skidmore

Apple’s plan to challenge Netflix and Amazon.com in the TV business just got a little bit clearer.

The maker of the iPhone and iPad plans to release a remake of Steven Spielberg’s science fiction anthology series Amazing Stories, according to NBCUniversal, one of the TV companies working with the technology giant. Amazing Stories would be the first original series Apple has agreed to finance since the world’s most valuable technology company hired two Sony executives to shepherd its nascent efforts in TV production.

After years of selling other companies’ TV shows and movies in its iTunes store, Apple has taken the plunge into Hollywood and begun competing with those same companies for the rights to produce future TV series. The company has pledged to spend US$1bn on original productions next year, and hired Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht from Sony Pictures Television, the studio that made Breaking Bad and The Blacklist.

Van Amburg and Erlicht have since hired executives to oversee their future shows, and bid on a number of projects already on the market.

Apple is paying $5m/episode for Amazing Stories, according to The Wall Street Journal, which reported the deal for the show on Tuesday. The deal isn’t officially complete, people familiar with the matter said.

“We love being at the forefront of Apple’s investment in scripted programming, and can’t think of a better property than Spielberg’s beloved Amazing Stories franchise,” Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment, said in a statement.

It’s still unclear how Apple will release its shows — or when. But selling media services has taken on a new urgency at the company as sales of iPhones have slowed.

Apple TV

Apple sells the Apple TV, a box that enables customers to watch an array of streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. And the company recently released its own app collating TV shows and movies from across the ever-growing constellation of streaming services.

Apple has also been buying original movies and TV shows for its music app, the second largest paid music service in the world after Spotify. Apple Music has released unscripted series Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke, and is about to release a documentary about music industry legend Clive Davis.

And for all the fuss about new services, Apple still operates iTunes, one of the largest online stores for movies and TV shows in the world.  — Reported by Lucas Shaw, with assistance from Anousha Sakoui, (c) 2017 Bloomberg LP

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