Apple is making a major push into the world of TV and film during the next year. Apple original programming will have a budget of $1 billion, which will be used by the tech giant to purchase and develop its own premium entertainment content as it takes on the likes of such streaming mainstays as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Apple has also hired experienced members of the Hollywood business community to help guide the new effort, including Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, former presidents of Sony Pictures Television. While there, the pair helped develop shows like Breaking Bad, The Goldbergs, and The Blacklist. Apple has also hired Matt Cherniss, another longtime Hollywood executive, to head development for its original entertainment group.
Though $1 billion may sound like a massive budget for original programming, it actually pales in comparison to the amount of money being spent by the biggest players in streaming video. Netflix alone aims to spend $7 billion on new content in the next year — having spent $6 billion in 2016 — and Amazon plans to spend about $4.5 billion. Even premium cable companies spend more than Apple intends to, with HBO reportedly spending about $2 billion per year on new films and TV series.
Still, the $1 billion budget is likely a first toe in the water for the cash-rich company, and if any film or TV property proves valuable, it wouldn’t be surprising to see that number skyrocket in future years. Apple currently has more than $260 billion in cash, cash equivalents, and long-term investments, so an increase would certainly be feasible. Eddy Cue, a longtime Apple executive in charge of internet software and services, will oversee the new executives in charge of company’s original entertainment arm.
So far, there’s no word as to what films or TV series the company is circling, but it will be interesting to see what the Apple decides to spend its money on. All of Apple’s previous original video content has focused on driving subscribers to its Apple Music streaming service, including a spinoff of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke that debuted just last week.
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