Apple Could Finally Wade Into Original Programming Waters

By January 13, 2017

The launch of original streaming shows on outlets like Netflix and Hulu has pushed the number of annual scripted series to unimaginable heights. But could a new player – with billions upon billions of dollars in the bank – be ready to jump into original programming?

Apple Inc., which already makes a killing with its iTunes Store, wants to go a step further, according to The Wall Street Journal (courtesy of Cult of Mac) that could have it join Amazon as a tech company wading into original shows.

The Wall Street Journal claims Apple has been in talks with “veteran producers” over the past few months about buying the rights to existing shows, and has also told them that it has plans to create its own programming – although those efforts are still in the early stages.

Even with the power and might of the Apple brand behind it, the later a streaming service jumps into original programming, the higher the mountain it has to climb to just even get noticed. At least if recent history has anything to say about it.

Netflix, for example, was one of the first to take the leap into original programming, and now boasts some of the streaming market’s biggest programs with the likes of Orange is the New Black, Stranger ThingsHouse of Cards, and a solid Defenders-style Marvel library like DaredevilJessica Jones and Luke Cage.

Hulu, which moved into original programming a short time later, hasn’t been so hot, although 11.22.63 did well (too bad the Stephen King-inspired series was a limited one), and Amazon is just starting to break ground with series like Man in the High Castle.

But outside of a few other critical favorites like Transparent, getting noticed in an ever-crowding streaming market has been nearly impossible. And that’s exactly what Apple could consider sinking its teeth into.

So how would Apple do it? Apparently it will take a cue from Amazon. Instead of setting up a separate streaming service, it will simply make its content available to Apple Music subscribers. Amazon makes its content available to those who sign up for its free shipping service.

Apple is not new to producing shows, however, as Cult of Mac reporter Luke Dormehl points out. Apple is behind a spin-off of James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” segments featured on his CBS late-night show, The Late Late Show with James Corden. It’s also developing another unscripted show called Planet of the Apps with a number of celebrities including songwriter Will.i.Am and actresses Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Ultimately, though, I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for original Apple TV content. It makes perfect sense as Apple embraces a business model built around services, and it could definitely help Apple Music compete with Spotify.

But we’ve also been here before on the original programming debate – and nothing’s turned up yet.

Dormehl is referring to reports in August 2015 that Apple would dip into original programming that would be a part of Apple TV. But nothing ever came of those reports.

Apple has been quiet about all this, as expected, keeping any plans – if they even exist – very close to the vest.

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Michael Hinman

Michael Hinman

Managing Editor at GeekNation
Michael began what has become nearly 19 years of entertainment reporting as the founder of SyFy Portal, which would become Airlock Alpha after he sold the SyFy brand to NBC Universal. He's based out of New York City where he is the editor of a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in the Bronx.