Skip to main content

How can Apple’s The Morning Show possibly cost more than Game of Thrones?

Apple is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on The Morning Show, the flagship series for its upcoming Apple TV+ streaming service. According to a report by The Financial Times, episodes of the drama cost more than $15 million each, making each one more expensive than an installment of Game of Thrones.

Where is all of that money going? The Morning Show is a Newsroom-esque drama about “the power dynamic between women and men” in the news media. It’s set in the real world. There are no dragons. No giants. No ice zombies. The Morning Show won’t feature large-scale battles that put big Hollywood blockbusters to shame. It won’t burn an entire fantasy kingdom to the ground.

But take a look at The Morning Show‘s cast list: Jennifer Aniston. Reese Witherspoon. Steve Carell. It also features well-known character actors like Billy Crudup, Néstor Carbonell, Mark Duplass, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

Suddenly, it all starts to make sense.

Game of Thrones launched with a handful of known actors, most notably Sean Bean (who appeared for less than a season), Peter Dinklage, and Lena Headey, but they were hardly A-list stars. Other actors, including Emilia Clarke and Kit Harrington, were virtually unknown. They didn’t make Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones made them.

By contrast, Apple is banking on name recognition to drive Apple TV+ subscriptions. Celebrities, not content, were the thrust of Apple’s March 2019 “Showtime” event, during which the tech giant unveiled Apple TV+ to the masses. The message since then been consistent: Want to see what the most famous people in show business are up to? Subscribe to Apple TV+.

The list of shows and movies coming to Apple TV+ backs this idea up. Apple has enlisted Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Oprah Winfrey, M. Night Shyamalan, Sofia Coppola, Bill Murray, Jason Momoa, and more to create content for the new streaming network. The projects themselves are little more than loglines, but no matter what these shows are about, Apple wants you know who’s involved.

Overall, The Financial Times says that Apple is spending $6 billion on original Apple TV+ content, a massive increase from its initial $1 billion investment. It’s easy to see why: Big names come at a big cost, and Apple is willing to pay.

Apple isn’t the only company pouring big bucks into streaming content, of course. Netflix spends $15 billion a year producing original programming, and has handed out six-figure development deals to people like Ryan Murphy, Shonda Rhimes, and Game of Thrones‘ own David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Amazon is spending $1 billion on its Lord of the Rings prequel alone.

Still, there’s a difference. Murphy, Rhimes, Benioff, and Weiss are creators first and celebrities second. Casual TV viewers probably may not even know who those people are, even though they’ve certainly heard of Grey’s Anatomy, American Horror Story, and Game of Thrones. Tolkien’s Middle-earth is known for its stories, not its red carpet appearances.

Netflix and its ilk are paying for content. Apple TV+ is banking on star power. It’s too early to say if Apple’s strategy will work, but in an increasingly crowded streaming service market, it’s hard to fault a company for doing anything it can to stand apart. Keep an eye on Apple TV+. Apple just might be onto something.

Editors' Recommendations

Chris Gates
Christopher Gates lives in Los Angeles, CA and writes about movies, TV, video games, and other pop culture curiosities. In…
Apple’s MLS Season Pass is streaming all games free this weekend
MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.

If you're a fan of Major League Soccer and haven't yet experienced MLS Season Pass on Apple TV (the app, not the hardware), this is a good weekend to do so. All 14 matches on this weekend's schedule are available to stream — even if you're not a subscriber.

MLS Season Pass has the exclusive rights to MLS matches in the U.S. In its second season, it's quickly proven to be a strong service. Games are streamed in 1080p at 60 frames per second (which should be the standard for all sports), and with a good bitrate, too, so the picture quality is excellent.

Read more
How many screens can you stream Disney+ on?
The Disney Plus app runs on an Apple Vision Pro headset in a person's living room.

In the world of streaming entertainment, Disney+ stands atop a mountain of content all its own. It's home to everything from classic Disney shorts and features to all things Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, Nat Geo, and more. If you only wanted to pay for one service, a Disney+ subscription wouldn’t do you wrong.

Unlike some competitive streaming meccas, a single Disney+ account can be shared with multiple users, and more than one Disney+ movie or show can be streamed simultaneously. How many exactly? We’ve put together this guide to answer that question, and to provide some additional Disney+ account sharing info.
How many people can stream Disney+ at the same time? 

Read more
MLS Season Pass in 2024: How to watch every game on Apple TV
MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.

It was a big year for football in 2023, for both the American and international versions. On the pigskin front, NFL Sunday Ticket made a (mostly) successful leap to YouTube TV. And the beautiful game found a new North American home on Apple TV with MLS Season Pass.

Major League Soccer will be even bigger in 2024. There's a new team (with a new stadium) in St. Louis this season and another on the way in San Diego in 2025. Oh, and Lionel Messi is still in Miami. And this year, he's brought an old friend — Luis Suarez. Just in case you didn't think there'd be any major storylines this year.

Read more