Matt Cherniss, the former president of WGN America, just joined Apple as the company’s head of U.S. programming for Apple Music. He’ll be teaming up with Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg who were both presidents of Sony Pictures Television.
Cherniss was responsible for helping WGN America draw an additional 10 million homes into the network’s viewer base. He also green lighted popular shows such as Manhattan and Salem.
He already has a good working relationship with Erlicht and Van Amberg that dates back to his tenure as an executive at FX when he worked on Sony’s Rescue Me series. He also previously worked for Warner Bros. Pictures and Fox.
Quality shows are important to Apple because they’ll help draw new subscribers into Apple Music. Bringing in a high powered management team can help with that, or at least bring some focus to Apple’s original programming efforts.
Hiring Erlicht, Van Amberg, and Cherniss is a clear sign Apple wants to compete with Netflix and Amazon in the original content space. Apple’s first two original shows, Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke The Series, launched with lukewarm reviews. With a serious programming team now in place we’ll likely see much more compelling shows in the future.
[Thanks to The Hollywood Reporter for the heads up]