Apple’s worldwide iTunes business isn’t too shabby. Can you name an online source that sells more music, more TV shows, more movies than Apple? It’s a short list. When it comes to content distribution– music, movies, TV shows, books– Apple is at or near the top of the list but seems to be missing out on the latest trend; one that’s been going on for years.
There once was a time when cable TV networks would simply buy old movies and TV shows to fill up their daily schedules. Then, slowly but steadily, many networks began to fund and create their own content. Go down the list. That trend among what were once merely distributors of someone else’s content are now producing content.
Rerun king Netflix plans to fund original programming starting with a $100-million bank account.That may sound impressive, but even that much money won’t go too far. Netflix charges a flat monthly fee and doesn’t have advertising to help cover their content creation costs. Through the years, as new subscribers are added to Netflix, the cost of creating content is amortized over new viewers. And we know how much we all love to watch reruns.
So, why doesn’t the king of content distribution spend $1-billion on original Apple TV programming?
Apple may be tentative about getting into the content creation business to bolster Apple TV because of the fear of pissing off current content partners. After all, if you’re watching an Apple produced program, you’re not watching something by HBO, right?
Apple’s biggest problem is the culture. The company loves the end-to-end control of hardware and software. How would that genetic makeup fare in the content creation world? Would Apple wield a big stick among producers? Based on how Apple manages the Mac and iPhone App Stores, I say yes. They won’t be able to control themselves while trying to control how content is created.
If Apple could be disciplined and simply spend some of the $140-billion or so that is sitting around, it wouldn’t take long for original content to show up in the Apple TV listings. The company can afford it. There’s no shortage of content producers looking for funding.
When Apple finally dips a toe into content creation with original programming, I just hope they do a better job than the SyFy Channel. This list of the Ten Worst SyFy Channel Movies Ever is an example of what can happen when the objective is to fill time slots rather than create quality, memorable programming.