Apple hasn’t officially announced its subscription-based video streaming service, but some of its key production partners are already chafing at interference from company executives — including CEO Tim Cook. A scathing New York Post report suggests that Hollywood producers and agents “can’t stop griping about how ‘difficult’ Apple is to deal with,” leading to angry creative teams and production delays.
In August 2017, Apple reportedly established a $1 billion fund to develop exclusive television shows and movies from A-list writers, actors, and producers. Following deals with everyone from M. Night Shyamalan to Oprah Winfrey, Rob McElhenney, and Reese Witherspoon, today’s report says that the company now has “several dozen shows” in the works, and plans to unveil the service this month. However, it will offer “just a handful” of the shows by the end of 2019, in part because it has insisted on changing both the content and an unspecified technology.
According to the Post’s report, Apple executives have become heavily involved in the productions, offering numerous “notes” to guide development, despite writers and directors preferring to work without corporate intrusions. Cook has reportedly urged producers not to “be so mean!,” building on previous claims that the company hired edgy producers such as Bryan Fuller, yet wanted to make family-friendly content that could be aired in Apple’s retail stores. Additionally, Apple has nixed themes such as religion or technology’s negative potential, as it wants to avoid controversy and portray technology positively.
More worryingly, the company reportedly hasn’t been satisfied with the quality of the shows, and has been firing and hiring writers during production. “A lot of the product is not as good as they hoped it to be,” a producer source said, and “there’s a lack of clarity on what they want.” The sources have characterized Apple’s executives as intrusive, nitpicky, and non-transparent — concepts that wouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with the company, but apparently are rubbing its creative partners the wrong way.
Amongst the service’s many unknowns is a unique technology angle that was touted by Apple SVP Eddy Cue last year — potentially some form of interactivity for shows. The report suggests that Apple has continued to tweak the technology, requiring its recently hired video executives to keep traveling between their Los Angeles offices and Apple HQ in Cupertino to approve technology changes.
Apple’s video service will come into direct competition with existing streaming rivals such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, as well as an upcoming service called Disney+ from long-time Apple partner Disney. Recent reports suggest that the service will include both Apple-developed content and TV channel-style access to video libraries from third-party providers.