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Apple Plotting ‘Significant’ Push Into Scripted TV Shows, Movies (Report)

Variety logo Variety 1/12/2017 Todd Spangler
© Provided by Variety

Apple wants to stocks its music-subscription service with original scripted TV shows and potentially movies, seeking to become a bigger Hollywood player, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Variety first reported Apple’s interest in moving into original programming in 2015. Apple is now looking to bring shows with the caliber of HBO’s “Westworld” and Netflix’s “Stranger Things” to Apple Music by the end of 2017, according to the Journal.

The company has already cut deals for some original video content for Apple Music, its $10 monthly service that competes with the likes of Spotify and Google Play Music. Apple’s programming slate includes a deal with CBS for a 16-episode spinoff of James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke,” as well as a scripted show from Beats founder Dr. Dre.

The WSJ report did not include details about what shows or genres Apple is looking at, and said the company’s interest in movies was “more preliminary.” The tech giant has been actively recruiting marketing execs at studios and TV networks as part of the originals effort, according to the Journal report, which cited anonymous sources.

In fact, Apple CEO Tim Cook has publicly said the company is interested in boosting original entertainment content. “We’ve got a few things going there that we’ve talked about. And I think it’s a great opportunity for us — both from a creation point of view and from an ownership point of view,” Cook said on Apple’s earnings call in October. “And so it’s an area that we’re focused on.”

While the Journal characterized the Apple move into scripted entertainment original as a “significant” new business strategy, it also reported that the company is looking at acquiring only a “handful of carefully selected shows.” As such, Apple Music’s originals slate would not be positioned as a rival to services like Netflix, HBO, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video.

Meanwhile, Apple and Time Warner execs met in late 2015, which has led to speculation that Apple might have been vying for the media conglomerate. AT&T is in the midst of an $85 billion takeover of Time Warner.

Apple also has ordered “Planet of the Apps,” a reality-competition TV show featuring aspiring app developers pitching their creations for a chance to win venture-capital funding. That, however, is more akin to branded content — a project designed to highlight Apple’s App Store business. “Planet of the Apps” is being produced by Propagate’s Ben Silverman and Howard Owens with Will.i.am, Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow and tech investor Gary Vaynerchuk on board as executive producers and mentors appearing on the show.

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