Apple courted top Hollywood talent at Sundance for Apple TV original programming effort

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited April 2016
A report on Monday adds to ongoing rumors of Apple's behind-the-scenes push to produce original TV and movie content for Apple TV, saying the company met with top industry talent in private backroom meetings during this year's Sundance Film Festival.




According to the latest scuttlebutt, as relayed by Fast Company, Apple hosted invitation-only events at The Imperial Hotel in Park city, Utah during Sundance to discuss its future plans with filmmakers and other industry insiders. One source said the company is seeking out "triple A-list" talent for a series of shows to be marketed exclusively through Apple TV and iTunes.

Dubbed the "iTunes Lounge" by those invited, Apple's presence at Sundance was all business and largely under the radar, a rarity for an event famous for its splashy brand parties. As noted by one of Apple's guests, "They were definitely talking to the talent."

Rumors that Apple is looking to get into original video programming surfaced last August when Hollywood executives were approached with potential partnership offers from a group answering to SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue. Sources at the time likened the project to Amazon's recent contract hire of former "Top Gear" hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May.

Apple followed up Sundance by sending executives to hear show pitches in Los Angeles, the report said. The company is supposedly looking for original TV series that will be produced in-house and served up through an "exclusives" app on Apple TV and iTunes.

While sources describe Apple's strategy as "disorganized," today's report said Cupertino is taking a "two-lane approach" to original programming. One lane is dedicated to a series of short films, music videos and documentaries related to the music industry that will help promote Apple Music. The initiative is already underway, with Taylor Swift's exclusive concert video release in December and the recent announcement of a scripted TV show featuring Beats executives Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine called "Vital Signs."

The second prong, sources say, is a secretive push for original TV series along the lines of shows produced by Amazon and Netflix. Instead of building out its library one show at a time, however, Apple is reportedly looking to debut multiple series at once, a more aggressive approach that could instantly propel Apple TV into a must-have platform. Longtime VP of iTunes content Robert Kondrk is said to be helming the ambitious effort.
Wgkruegerlolliver

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    Makes so much sense.

    If they won't join you, Beat em.

    I've noticed an Apple TV isn't much more desirable than a cheap Fire stick, Roku etc. really looking forward to changes.
  • Reply 2 of 13
    As a long-time fan of Joss Whedon (Avengers, Buffy, and many other works) -- who is uncommitted at the moment after completing Avengers-2 last year, I'd love to see him as a launch-partner of their original programming.
    lolliver
  • Reply 3 of 13
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,789member
    I wonder if Justin Long and John Hodgman are available.
    Long's last credit on IMDb is "Ghost Team" (post-production.)
    Hodgman's last credit on IMDb is "The Venture Bros.", a TV series which seems to have ended this year.
    Call 'em, Apple.
  • Reply 4 of 13
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,789member

    cali said:
    Makes so much sense.

    If they won't join you, Beat em.

    I've noticed an Apple TV isn't much more desirable than a cheap Fire stick, Roku etc. really looking forward to changes.
    Oh.  Really?
    You think that you can sway peoples' opinions against TV with a comment like that?
    Here's something you should read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll#Concern_troll
    The classic "concern troll" tells a more convincing story.  Read it and learn.
    lolliver
  • Reply 5 of 13
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,297member
    Anyone know what experience Robert Kondrk (or Eddy Cue for that matter) have in launching original programming? Or are they just going to open the checkbook for other people's original content, exclusive to Apple? And would this be exclusive to Apple TV or would it need to be on other platforms like Netflix and Amazon content is?
  • Reply 6 of 13
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member
    I just hope that whatever Apple chooses to bankroll is good, not garbage, and I hope that Apple will keep their politics and social justice activism out of it.
  • Reply 7 of 13
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Anyone know what experience Robert Kondrk (or Eddy Cue for that matter) have in launching original programming? Or are they just going to open the checkbook for other people's original content, exclusive to Apple? And would this be exclusive to Apple TV or would it need to be on other platforms like Netflix and Amazon content is?
    They usually hire someone who is good a gauging qualty/talent, that person finds people with interesting ideas and finances pilot programs, these pilot programs are then screened to small audiences and evaluated (or in the case of Amazon, to their potential future audience), the best one are either used as is, or retooled a bit (sometimes even re-shooting the pilot like big bang theory) and if they're then happy they pick up the series for X episodes (usually these days 13, sometimes 18 if they're real confident).

    Doubt Cue or Kondrik would be doing programming decision. He'd probably be in on the producing side though, once they've agreed to finance (Executive Producer, a bit like Speilberg with Amblin movies he didn't make himself).
    lolliver
  • Reply 8 of 13
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,297member
    foggyhill said:
    Anyone know what experience Robert Kondrk (or Eddy Cue for that matter) have in launching original programming? Or are they just going to open the checkbook for other people's original content, exclusive to Apple? And would this be exclusive to Apple TV or would it need to be on other platforms like Netflix and Amazon content is?
    They usually hire someone who is good a gauging qualty/talent, that person finds people with interesting ideas and finances pilot programs, these pilot programs are then screened to small audiences and evaluated (or in the case of Amazon, to their potential future audience), the best one are either used as is, or retooled a bit (sometimes even re-shooting the pilot like big bang theory) and if they're then happy they pick up the series for X episodes (usually these days 13, sometimes 18 if they're real confident).

    Doubt Cue or Kondrik would be doing programming decision. He'd probably be in on the producing side though, once they've agreed to finance (Executive Producer, a bit like Speilberg with Amblin movies he didn't make himself).
    And what experience do either of them have producing original content? I guess I'm not convinced Apple needs to go this route. There's a lot they can do to make TV best in class that doesn't involve expensive original programming.
  • Reply 9 of 13
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    foggyhill said:
    They usually hire someone who is good a gauging qualty/talent, that person finds people with interesting ideas and finances pilot programs, these pilot programs are then screened to small audiences and evaluated (or in the case of Amazon, to their potential future audience), the best one are either used as is, or retooled a bit (sometimes even re-shooting the pilot like big bang theory) and if they're then happy they pick up the series for X episodes (usually these days 13, sometimes 18 if they're real confident).

    Doubt Cue or Kondrik would be doing programming decision. He'd probably be in on the producing side though, once they've agreed to finance (Executive Producer, a bit like Speilberg with Amblin movies he didn't make himself).
    And what experience do either of them have producing original content? I guess I'm not convinced Apple needs to go this route. There's a lot they can do to make TV best in class that doesn't involve expensive original programming.
    Man, that's a weak argument. What experience did Netflix have before 2 years ago : 0, Amazon before 18 months ago : 0.
    In fact, if you look at their track record lately, "experience" seems to be a detriment to CBS, ABC, FOX or NBC.

    Original programming when you control distribution is really lucrative, it's an almost assured money maker.
    Or in Apple's case, an added value to the eco-system.
    Why do you think shows like "You're the worst", with ridiculously low ratings (a  great show I love immensely btw) stay on the air?
    It's on FXX of all networks, even if 2% of people with Apple TV watched a show, that's still more than that show's rating.
    Most Amazon's and Netflix's shows have very low ratings (by network standards); there are a few exceptions.

    These days, making good programming is not that expensive and Apple with its resources would get good talent, no question about it.

    Also, there not "making anything", like every one else, they'll just put out there they're ready to finance and talent will go where they feel most comfortable to do so.

    All they need is to hire one good talent guy to head production (the person who green-lights projects and is a hands on producers, that's different from the exec producer who mostly handles financing and resources and decides overall programming strategy (say asking for programs with a multi-national bent, or a regional one ).

    If Apple comes in with shows within a year, they'd be no more "late" than any of those company in hopping into a shifting landscape and in fact be better placed than most streaming companies.
    edited April 2016 lolliver
  • Reply 10 of 13
    irelandireland Posts: 17,743member
    apple ][ said:
    I just hope that whatever Apple chooses to bankroll is good, not garbage, and I hope that Apple will keep their politics and social justice activism out of it.
    What's that Trump?
    lolliver
  • Reply 11 of 13
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,699member
    And what experience do either of them have producing original content? I guess I'm not convinced Apple needs to go this route. There's a lot they can do to make TV best in class that doesn't involve expensive original programming.

    What experience did Apple have with running a music store before they started iTunes?

    What experience did they have with mobile phones before they started working on the iPhone?

    With your way of thinking, no company would ever try anything new.
    lolliver
  • Reply 12 of 13
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 13,001member
    cali said:
    Makes so much sense.

    If they won't join you, Beat em.

    I've noticed an Apple TV isn't much more desirable than a cheap Fire stick, Roku etc. really looking forward to changes.
    Actually you're joining them, and it won't work unless you have at least one 'must see' TV series. 
  • Reply 13 of 13
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,541member
    Making original programming is not hard.  Making "very good" programs which can be a flagship to promote a device or service is not easy, nor cheap, nor guaranteed (how many hyped movies crash at the box office?).  It of course is possible, as we see HBO, Showtime, Netflix and (maybe) Amazon doing this now - as examples of subscription services separate in some way from general broadcast & cable channels.  No reason Apple can't do it, as they are a company which has demonstrated taste, discipline, focus, etc...However, it is a long-term commitment to make it succeed, and it isn't the only way they can offer a great service and/or improve Apple TV.

    Recent original programming on HBO, Netflix and Amazon is only a drop in the bucket of content that people watch on a daily basis, especially in a global market.  Lots of different ways to take that content and package for use, which could distinguish Apple from competitors in the TV services market.  

    For example, I use iTunes primarily for renting new movies not on HBO or Netflix (perhaps a $1 cheaper than my cable co, and has a better UE), and to purchase the odd TV show that we missed for some reason.  It is a great catch-all in that way, with most new programs (US/Canada anyways) available next day.  Right now, all you can do is buy those programs, which is cost prohibitive for more than a few shows.  Even past seasons are still relatively expensive, which doesn't follow the logic of value.  Surely if Apple were to use its negotiating leverage, it could package this content into some innovative offers that are of value to a wider audience, and aren't direct conflict with say Netflix, which is a good partner.


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