As part of its plan to enter into the crowded online streaming service market, the iPhone manufacturer has poached two long-time Sony Pictures Television executives responsible for some of the most widely acclaimed programming of the past decade.
Having served as presidents for Sony Pictures Television since 2005, Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg played an instrumental role in developing the likes of Breaking Bad, The Crown and Better Call Saul.
Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services Eddy Cue said the company hoped to benefit from the addition of the two men, who more than tripled Sony’s slate of original prime time series under their leadership.
“Jamie and Zack are two of the most talented TV executives in the world and have been instrumental in making this the golden age of television,” he said in a statement.
While the company did not elaborate on its strategy, it hinted that it will be looking to increase its original content from the karaoke shows and app development-based TV already on it’s $10-a-month streaming service, Apple Music.
“We have exciting plans in store for customers and can’t wait for them to bring their expertise to Apple — there is much more to come.”
Apple has one huge advantage compared to other companies – 1 billion iPhones, iPads and other devices that run Apple’s mobile operating system and offer a broad distribution platform. The company has widely promoted Planet of the Apps across iTunes, the App Store, Apple’s website and elsewhere.
As tech companies push further into the content business, pressure mounts on traditional media outlets that do not have the same amount of data on viewers or the ability for content to be a loss leader, said Rich Greenfield, an analyst with BTIG.
“These companies do not need to make money off video because they can make money other ways,” Greenfield said. “And they are going to have tons of data on their viewers.”
It is more cost-effective for Apple to pay for original content and secure licensing deals on its own than to buy a content company, said Moody’s analyst Gerald Granovsky.
“From a credit perspective, we’d much rather see Apple overpay to deliver original content than pay US$50bil to buy Netflix and basically compete for the same content,” he said. “They’ll definitely get a better bang for their buck by focusing on their Apple TV product.”
Greenfield said news of Apple’s hires should put to rest rumours that Apple might acquire another content company, Walt Disney Co. “It’s pretty clear now that Apple isn’t buying Disney,” he said.
For SONY, the departures come as the Japanese conglomerate revamps its movie and television studio under new chief executive Tony Vinciquerra. In a memo to staff, Vinciquerra suggested Apple could be a buyer of Sony programming.
“While we are sad to see them go, we are excited by the opportunity to work with them as partners in the future,” he said.