“We’re not after quantity; we’re after quality,” claimed Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue at SXSW this past weekend. The comment is seemingly in direct opposition to Netflix’s 2018 strategy, which includes an $8 billion investment to create 700 original series this year alone. However, Cue declared that Apple was “all in” for their original content. Currently, the company has acquired the rights to around a dozen new shows, including their existing Carpool Karaoke series based on James Corden’s Late Late Show segment. Additionally, late last year the company announced their intentions to invest over $4 billion into original content by 2022. It’s a far cry from Netflix’s hefty investment for just this year, but it does show that Apple is serious about expanding their original series.
Cue himself admitted to the crowd that Apple is currently “making big investments,” before adding that around 40 people are dedicated to building Apple’s content business. Just yesterday, the company announced a new musical animated comedy from the creator of Bob’s Burgers, Loren Bouchard. Called Central Park, the series will be co-written by Josh Gad and Nora Smith, in addition to Bouchard. And that is just one of the dozen shows that Apple has in the works.
While Apple surely doesn’t want to oversaturate its own content, Cue did say that the company is willing to make the necessary investments to achieve the desired quality. He even compared their approach to that of Pixar, focusing on quality storytelling first. But, Cue also suggested that there would be “surprises” in store once the series is available. He made sure to add that Apple is not currently focusing on acquiring sports streaming rights, a move that Facebook made last week for the exclusive streaming of 25 MLB games.
Since Apple is not an advertising-based business, like Facebook and Google, Cue suggested that its ambitions for original content face fewer hurdles than their rivals. It’s a similar situation to what gives Apple Music a slight edge over Spotify (although Spotify still currently leads the music streaming race). Since Apple doesn’t have to rely on content streaming for their profit, they are allowed more flexibility in general in their content creation.
While it’s unlikely Apple becomes the next Pixar, it is interesting to see the difference in strategy between the likes of Apple and Netflix when it comes to original content. Netflix’s strategy has been referred to as “spray and pray” — essentially throwing as many darts as they can to see what sticks — while Apple seems to be taking a much more measured approach. However, for now, Netflix still reigns supreme when it comes to television streaming. But, if Apple can pull off a few hits, the future could quite possibly be theirs.