As upstart subscription streaming video services go, Apple TV+ remains largely under the radar. Launching just 10 days ahead of Disney+ last November, the $4.99 SVOD service boasted 30 original programs, scant catalog content and reportedly has about 10 million subscribers. Apple gives a free year of service with any hardware purchase.
Now the Cupertino, Calif.-based CE giant is reportedly looking to beef up its content portfolio with catalog content, according to Bloomberg, which cited sources familiar with the situation. Despite about $200 billion in free cash at the end of 2019, Apple didn’t get into bidding for coveted TV series such as “Friends,” “The Office,” “Seinfeld” or “The Simpsons.”
With coronavirus quarantines continuing in many parts of the country, Apple is realizing the value of enhanced program offerings in the home. The company has reportedly begun contacting production companies about catalog TV shows and movies to backup original programming, which includes the launch of animated adult series “Central Park” on May 29, and documentaries “Dear” and “Dads” in June.
Original series,”The Morning Show,” co-starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, earned Aniston her first SAG Award.
In an interview last month with Bloomberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook admitted the COVID-19 pandemic had expanded the market for new Apple TV + subscribers spending more time in the home.
“The pandemic cut both ways,” he said.
Apple’s foray into subscription streaming video via Apple TV+ is all about original programming — not expensive re-runs. That’s according to CEO Tim Cook in response to a question during the Feb. 26 shareholder meeting about why the tech giant hasn’t gone after well-known catalog fare such as “Friends,” “The Big Bang Theory” or “The Office,” among others.
“We love ‘Friends.’ Who doesn’t love ‘Friends’? It’s not what Apple TV+ is about, it’s about original programming,” Cook said. “It doesn’t feel right for Apple to go out and take a rerun. It doesn’t feel like Apple.”
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AT&T’s WarnerMedia Entertainment reportedly paid $85 million per year for five years ($425 million) securing the exclusive streaming rights for “Friends” away from Netflix.
NBCUniversal paid more than $500 million for streaming rights to “The Office,” while Netflix paid about the same for “Seinfeld.”
Apple TV+ launched Nov. 1, 2019 with 24 original series, including Golden Globes winner “The Morning Show” for Jennifer Aniston. Other series include “Home Before Dark,” “Amazing Stories,” “Truth Be Told,” “Trying,” “See,” and “Dickenson,” starring Hailee Steinfeld (Bumblebee).
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“We’re going to be focused on original programming,” Cook said, adding that Apple TV+ is off to a “rousing start” without elaborating additional details, including subscriber numbers.
Apple giving away a free year of the service with any purchase of an Apple hardware product.