Apple announced it has hired two Sony Pictures presidents who oversaw the production of TV sensations Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and Blacklist, to help it make original video content for its streaming platform.
Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who have been co-presidents at Sony Pictures since 2005, will lead video programming at the company. Apple plans to build a product similar to Netflix and Prime Video by making original movies and shows available to customers who pay for a subscription service. This could help offset the slowing growth of its hardware, particularly that of its coveted iPhone.
The company will fold the new content into its Apple Music service, which costs $10 a month. Its first release, a Shark Tank-inspired original show called Planet of the Apps, premiered last week. Its second series, a spinoff of the popular Carpool Karaoke segment from The Late Late Show with James Corden, will begin airing in August after it was delayed earlier this year. The smartphone giant also has plans to release a documentary about Sean Combs in June, and Clive Davis in the next few months.
Apple will face an uphill battle to compete against the likes of Golden Globe-winners Netflix and Amazon, which will each spend more than $4 billion in programming this year. But the smartphone maker’s bottomless pockets and ability to hire some of the most esteemed executives in Silicon Valley should provide consumer-friendly competition in an industry that has quickly been taken over by giants.
For Sony, the acquisition comes at a shaky time after losing chairman Steve Mosko and chief executive Michael Lynton last year. But when one door closes, another one opens, and Sony already has plans to take advantage of its new position. The company’s new chief executive Tony Vinciquerra told staff in a memo that, “While we are sad to see them go, we are excited by the opportunity to work with them as partners in the future.”