Apple is reportedly investing $1 billion in original video content

Apple is reportedly investing $1 billion in original video content

Apple is reportedly investing $1 billion in original video content

The company is telling content makers it wants to spend $1 billion on its own stuff over the next year. While it has acquired some interesting and critically well-received documentaries on the film festival circuit, these have tended to be narrowly music-focused in scope - which makes sense given that they are created to sell Apple Music, and appeal to the same audience as its Beats 1 radio station. The figure is about half what Time Warner Inc.'s HBO spent on content last year and on par with estimates of what Inc. spent in 2013, the year after it announced its move into original programming.

Already, Apple has signaled its aims to become a significant Hollywood player with the hiring of Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht - longtime presidents at Sony Pictures Television - in June. They exited their Sony contracts a month early and started working this month from Apple's Los Angeles offices, where they are taking over programming responsibilities from the Apple Music team, according to the people familiar with the matter.

Elbowing into the crowded video business won't be easy. Making TV is expensive, with season six of Game of Thronesreportedly costing $10 million per episode. Comedies are much cheaper, costing around $2 million per episode, while a drama can carry a fee of $5 million per episode.

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Apple has set a budget of around $1bn (£776m) to "procure and produce" television shows over the next year, as part of its efforts to crack Hollywood and rival the likes of Netflix, Amazon and traditional production studios.

It is not clear as yet on whether this new original content will only be made available on Apple Music, or whether Apple plans to also make it available on the new Apple TV and iTunes.

For Apple, a $1 billion outlay for original entertainment would barely make a dent in its balance sheet: The company reported $261.5 billion in cash, cash equivalents and long-term investments as of July 1, 2017.

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