‘Apple set to challenge Netflix for originals’

Technology giant Apple is set to shake up the content world, with a report from the US claiming it is to formally enter the original programming business.

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Variety cites sources close to the Cupertino-based media conglomerate suggesting “preliminary conversations” with Hollywood executives have taken place around original programming efforts.

The scale of Apple’s ambition is not clear, but one source claims the plan will see the firm create an original programming unit, which could focus on TV series or movies, or both.

This would part of a strategy to compete with streaming leader Netflix, which has focused on original programming as a key pillar in its ongoing growth period.

Other Variety sources suggest Apple’s interest is more of a “flirtation”, though one source said the firm had made an “unprecedented bid” to secure the services of former Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. The trio ultimately ended up signing with Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Apple plans to hire a headhunting firm in coming months, one source claimed. With Apple’s huge cheque book to hand, the firm would likely to be able to prise top executives away from entertainment’s leading companies.

For Apple, whose third quarter revenues were US$49 billion and profits were US$10.7 billion, a move into original programming would represent a modest financial undertaking. However, it would mark a significant strategic shift to add original programming to its core soft- and hardware manufacturing businesses.

The idea of Apple moving into originals has been bandied around for more than a decade, though to this point its television activities have been limited to set-top box creation and programme distribution through its iTunes platform.