Apple’s measured entrance into streaming video and original programming took another step forward after the tech giant inked a deal with DHX Media, the Canadian distributor of children’s content, including “Charlie Brown,” “Snoopy” and related “Peanuts.”
Under the agreement (first reported by Variety), DHX and unit Peanuts Worldwide will produce original branded content for Apple’s pending 2019 subscription streaming video service.
DHX acquired the rights to the late Charles Schulz’s iconic “Peanuts” brand in 2017 for $345 million — a deal that included the “Strawberry Shortcake” franchise.
Publicly-owned DHX, which also owns the “Teletubbies,” “Degrassi,” “Caillou,” “Inspector Gadget,” and “Yo Gabba Gabba!” brands, has generated about $436 million in revenue this year.
Apple, through iTunes, the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, has long embraced digital distribution of third-party movies and TV shows. Emulating Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu into the SVOD market, however, has proven to be more complicated.
Despite free cash reserves exceeding $200 billion, Apple sat on the sidelines as Disney bought Marvel and Lucasfilm, and Netflix and Amazon embarked on global expansion strategies underscored by original content production.
Following the short-lived “Planet of the Apps” online reality show in 2016, Apple in 2017 launched “Carpool Karaoke: The Series,” produced by James Corden, who originated the concept on “The Late Late Show with James Corden.”
That same year, Apple hired TV executives Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg to spearhead original content production. Armed with a reported $1 billion operating budget, the pair inked Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon for an original series based on morning TV, in addition to a planned reboot of “Amazing Stories.”
Apple now has more than 20 projects in development, including series from directors Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash) and M. Night Shyamalan (Split, Devil, The Village, upcoming Glass). It reportedly is projected to spend upwards of $4 billion on original content by 2022.