Apple may soon find itself playing the role of producer of original video programming, according to a new report.
The Cupertino tech giant has held meetings with Hollywood executives in recent weeks to gauge their interest in helping make original movies and TV shows, producing content that would challenge offerings from Netflix and Amazon Prime, Variety reports. The Apple unit reportedly handing the discussions reports to Eddy Cue, Apple’s head of Internet software and services.
The company hopes to begin the hiring process soon for development and production divisions that would begin creating long-form content by next year.
Apple’s Internet software and services division, which is headed by Eddy Cue, is said to be spearheading the discussions.
Apple representatives did not respond to a request for comment.
The report emerges a little more than a week before an event in San Francisco next week in which the company is expected to show off new iPhones as well as a new Apple TV box that it potentially will launch alongside an Internet-delivered television service. The company was believed to be readying those products for its annual developers conference in June, but instead they were pushed back.
Original movies and TV shows would be a valuable component in a Web-based subscription TV service Apple is said to have been working on. The service would offer programming from about 25 channels, including major networks ABC, CBS and Fox, that would be available on all devices running Apple’s iOS operating system, including the Apple TV, according to the report. (Disclosure: CBS is the parent company of CNET.)
The service, which was expected to be announced in June, would deliver programming across the Internet, like Dish’s Sling TV product and Sony’s PlayStation Vue. A series of “over-the-top” TV services have hit the Web in recent months, as the TV industry as networks and TV providers have recognized the long-term importance of appealing to a “cord cutter” — someone who forsakes a traditional pay-TV for Internet-based video.
Delivering TV programming to viewers is widely expected to be the next step in Apple’s entertainment strategy, a key component to Apple’s overall goal of creating a stable of products and services that keep consumers from straying to competitors such as Google. Apple has hinted for quite some time that it’s working on a more complete, over-the-top video streaming service. However, there have been no signs such a product is close to ready, which largely has been attributed to difficulties securing content deals at reasonable rates.
“TV is a hard problem to solve,” Cue said in May. “One of the problems you have with a TV is you have a disparate system with a bunch of providers. There’s no standards. There’s a lot of rights issues.”
Original content offers is seen as a differentiator among the myriad streaming services to lure new customers. Netflix and Amazon Prime already offer a slate of original programming, and on Sunday Netflix announced it would not renew its five-year movie licensing pact with Epix so it could focus on creating original movies.