Report: Apple is building a TV streaming back catalog

Taking pitches from Hollywood studios and licensing content.

From Bloomberg’s “Apple Buys Older Shows for TV+, Stepping Up Netflix Challenge,” posted Tuesday morning:

Apple is acquiring older movies and shows for its TV+ streaming service, aiming to build a back catalog of content that can better stack up against the huge libraries available on Netflix, Hulu and Disney+.

The company’s video-programming executives have taken pitches from Hollywood studios about licensing older content for TV+ and have bought some shows and movies, according to people familiar with the matter.

The move represents a subtle strategy shift for Apple TV+, which launched in November with a lineup of original programs. The company plans to keep TV+ focused on original shows, and hasn’t yet acquired any huge franchises or blockbusters for its back catalog, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private.

Still, it’s an acknowledgment that successful streaming services typically have a mix of old and new shows. That’s been the formula for Netflix Inc., Disney’s Hulu and Disney+, and Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video.

My take: I don’t get it. Doesn’t Apple TV+ already offers a mix of original content and older shows?

9 Comments

  1. Jerry Doyle said:
    I wondered how long it would take Apple to add third party media content to its original content library. This absence truly came to light during the recent earnings call when other media content competitors‘ viewership during the quarantine period made Apple’s viewership look mediocre, no matter the limited premium original content available that Apple produces.

    3
    May 19, 2020
    • Fred Stein said:
      Yup, completely aligned. A decade ago, a friend asked what Apple should with their excess cash, tiny by today’s comparison. I said, “Buy content”.

      Apple has a unique advantage. They can buy 10’s of $B’s with only a 3% annual yield. Investors won’t blink.

      1
      May 19, 2020
  2. Gregg Thurman said:
    As soon as a program is broadcast it is old material, Apple is producing old material candidates everyday.

    Apple TV has had one showing rentals for a very long time. In a typical month I spend about $20 on these rentals. During the last 2 months my consumption has more than doubled.

    I’d really like to be on the selection committee for these ‘old’ movies. Of the literally tens of thousands of titles, I don’t think there are more than a few thousand worth watching. The problem is finding them. Streamers’ algorithmic efforts to find them for you does nothing more than increasingly narrow what is presented to you.

    4
    May 19, 2020
  3. Fred Stein said:
    Apple has another big advantage. People like us, older and at least OK financially, with spare time and let’s face it nostalgic, to continue subscribing.

    In fact I’m thinking of cancelling my Netflix as it’s more expensive than Disney and Apple combined.

    Also Apple has to make TV+ compelling, before the free memberships expire.

    4
    May 19, 2020
  4. Dan Scropos said:
    Apple has had years of others spending money to see where the value lies. Rather than being a sloppy first mover, Apple, per usual, will be a late but efficient entrant. This is nothing new.

    4
    May 19, 2020
  5. Martin Beutling said:
    They should merge AppleTV+ with their iTunes-tv-show-movie catalogue and that’s it for Netflix.

    4
    May 19, 2020
  6. Gregg Thurman said:
    They should merge AppleTV+ with their iTunes-tv-show-movie catalogue and that’s it for Netflix.

    I think Apple has already done better than that.

    When I’m searching for something to watch I go to Apple TV+. Apple TV+ search finds what I’m looking for, no matter which service has it, and I can go directly there without having to open each service and do multiple searches.

    I have become fond of searching by actor/actresses. Supporting actor/actress searches brings up a lot I find enjoyable (and often haven’t seen before). This brings up much more of what I like than algorithms searching genres.

    2
    May 19, 2020
  7. Roger Schutte said:
    Right now, all production is shut down due to Covid, thus no new original programs are coming online for Apple. They have to get something ‘new’ added to Apple TV+ in order to keep subscribers, let alone add any new ones. I don’t know if it makes financial sense, but seems to me that buying Sony would solve two issues: gain access to Columbia’s catalog plus acquire the cameras they are already buying.

    1
    May 19, 2020

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