Apple has reportedly made a $1 billion commitment to original content, according to The Wall Street Journal. That’s a big step up for Apple, but it doesn’t come close to the already-established players in this space.
According to CNBC report form 2016, these are the 2016-2017 budgets for five TV power houses:
- ESPN $7.3 billion
- Netflix $6 billion
- NBC $4.3 billion
- CBS $4 billion
- Amazon $3.2 billion
I’ve long argued that we’re in a golden age of TV, especially when you include the rich Internet-based offerings from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and other sources. That golden age comes with a diamond-studded price tag, though, a billion dollars is the corporate equivalent of putting your foot in the door. Shows like Game of Thrones cost as much as $10 million per episode, and half hour comedies can hit $2 million per ep.
One Step at a Time
That said, none of the companies above started off with those huge budgets. You can’t make great TV shows or movies by throwing money at the problem. They take time, attention, effort, and most of all talent, and that takes more time to bring together.
To that end, The Journal noted that, “Apple’s budget is about half what Time Warner Inc.’s HBO spent on content last year and on par with estimates of what Amazon.com Inc. spent in 2013, the year after it announced its move into original programming.”
So this kind of investment is the kind of investment you make when you’re serious about spending even more money later. In the meanwhile, Apple will use that money to build out its team, develop relationships, and “acquire and produce as many as 10 television shows.”
One more note on this: it smacks of a controlled leak. I imagine Apple wanted to serve notice that it’s here and it’s serious.