Who Says There's Too Much TV? Apple Looks to Create Original Programming

In Talks With Hollywood Execs to Fund Several High-Profile Series

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Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during the Apple Spring Forward event in San Francisco in March.
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during the Apple Spring Forward event in San Francisco in March. Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
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Entertainment executives in Hollywood have held talks with Apple about producing exclusive shows for Apple TV, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

Apple has discussed investing in original series, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions were private. The company hasn't decided whether to proceed, the person said.

With original programming, Apple would make the leap from being one of the top retailers of entertainment to its wealthiest producer, and obtain premium content for a live TV service it's said to be planning. Next week, the Cupertino, California-based maker of iPhones and Mac computers is expected to unveil a new version of its Apple TV set-top box, along with the latest iteration of the popular mobile phone.

The move would pose another threat to the pay-TV industry, which has suffered subscriber losses as young consumers watch video using online services like Netflix and Google's YouTube and older viewers pare their spending. It would also increase the ranks of deep-pocketed producers of original TV series, an area that some are already calling glutted.

Tom Neumayr, an Apple spokesman, declined to comment. Variety reported on Apple's plans on Monday.

It would also represent a challenge to established online streaming companies like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Those three services are bedrock offerings in the current Apple TV set-top box.

Apple would want to fund a number of high-profile series, the person said, rather than start with one or two. The company attempted to work with the stars of hit BBC series "Top Gear" after they left the show, according to Variety.

Analysts and executives have long speculated Apple might fund programming or buy a movie studio. Up to now, the company has stuck with producing phones, tablets and computers -- businesses with higher profit margins than content production.

The company has been taking steps into video production. Apple's new music app, for example, includes some exclusive, behind-the-scenes clips. Artists often welcome videographers and photographers into the studio with them, and Apple has hired executives to help shoot and produce video from recording sessions with willing musicians.

--Bloomberg News