Apple to take on Netflix and Amazon Prime with move into original programming

Company already sells films and television show downloads through Tunes

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Apple is gearing up to take on Netflix and Amazon Prime by making a long-awaited move into creating its own original programming.

The technology giant is seeking to poach an executive to head its proposed new production and development business and has held secret talks with leading Hollywood figures over the role, Variety reported.

Apple made a bid to sign Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear team before Amazon secured the former BBC trio in a £160m deal to produce an exclusive new car show for subscribers to the online retailer’s Prime service, it has emerged.

Apple made a bid to sign the Top Gear team (PA)

It is not yet clear whether Apple intends to produce its own films as well as television series through its own studio. The company already sells films and television show downloads through its iTunes store.

A streaming service offering original programming, which would challenge Netflix and Amazon Prime head on, could be marketed as an addition to the new Apple Music service, which claimed 11 million trial users a month after its launch.

Apple launched its own radio station, Beats 1, alongside the subscription music service. An in-house team has produced music videos for artists like Drake, Eminem and M.I.A.

Eddy Cue, the executive in charge of Apple Music, is believed to be heading the unit charged with creating original screen content. Apple wants the division to be operational next year.

Offering hit shows of the calibre of Netflix’s House of Cards would be a selling point for a new Web-based subscription television service, which Apple has been developing to coincide with the release of the latest version of its Apple TV at an event next week.

The new box will include Siri support, a redesigned remote control and an app store that will allow developers to run programs on it.

The subscription service the company is reported to be developing would offer Apple’s own shows alongside 25 channels, including the major television networks. It would be available on Apple TV as well as other devices running Apple’s iOS operating system, according to reports.

The original content discussions are said to be at an early stage. Cue recently said: “TV is a hard problem to solve. 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.”

There have been suggestions that Apple could use its resources to simply buy a Hollywood studio. But the California company could work in partnership with the major film and television producers, tapping into their expertise in order to produce original content for its web TV service.


Variety speculated that Apple’s television plans could extend beyond high-end drama to reality shows, tapping into the kind unscripted content which has turned many vloggers into YouTube celebrities. Apple has expanded its independent film offering on iTunes and regularly offers films to rent before their theatrical release.

Apple’s consumer base is so large that potential rivals are also currently collaborators. Amazon announced yesterday that it is letting Prime members download television episodes and films on Apple iPhones and iPads as well as Android phones and tablets for watching while offline, a feature Netflix and the US streaming service Hulu doesn’t offer.

Netflix hopes to attract more subscribers by investing in original films which will be given a global premiere on the platform.

In a challenge to traditional cable pay-TV providers, Netflix will from next year give subscribers access to first-run, live-action and animated feature films from Disney, including Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel under a deal with Disney. Apple has declined to comment on its programming plans.