21st Century Fox CEO Says Apple Still Just 'Dabbling' in Original TV Content

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In early 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook described the company's plans for original TV content on Apple Music as placing a "toe in the water" for its television ambitions at the time. Eventually, Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke debuted on the service, but since then frequent reports have indicated Apple is now "completely all in" on original content, shifting from reality TV programs on Apple Music to high-quality, $1 billion investments in hour-long programs on par with shows like Westworld.

Despite Apple's evolving plans over the past year and a half, 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch still believes Apple to be "dabbling" in the creative original content space. In an interview at Recode's Code Conference this week, Murdoch was asked what advice he would give to companies who are not traditional TV content-creating companies, but who are getting into the original programming business.

Photo taken by Asa Mathat via Recode


Murdoch explained that 21st Century Fox's angle is "a creative business" and "very entreprenurial," where it empowers creators, creative partners, and creative executives to "push the envelope" in storytelling. He said that "being tolerant of failure is important," leading into his statement about Apple and other companies looking into TV production and their potential fear of failure as an impediment to faster progress.
So, I think the one issue that we see with the kind of, you know, the dabbling, right? If you look at an Apple. Is it ... Going piece by piece, one by one, show by show, et cetera, is gonna take a long time to really move the dial and having something mega. I do think that's gonna be very challenging.
As of now, there are 13 original shows coming from Apple (although how exactly they will launch remains in question), including new episodes of Amazing Stories, an untitled space drama from the creator of the Battlestar Galactica reboot, a Kristen Wiig sitcom, and other projects from names like Damien Chazelle, M. Night Shyamalan, and Octavia Spencer. Apple has set aside a $1 billion "war chest" for the production of these shows, the first of which could launch as soon as March 2019.

Murdoch appears to think that Apple will roll out its shows "one by one," leading into his argument that it will take a while for the company to have a hit on its hands. It's unclear why the CEO believes that to be Apple's plans, however, since neither Apple nor any rumors have suggested how exactly the company will launch its shows, and how many will hit at once.


One of Apple's rivals in the market will be Hulu, which has its own original TV shows like The Handmaid's Tale, Marvel's Runaways, and the upcoming Stephen King anthology series Castle Rock. 21st Century Fox is one of the owners of Hulu, and according to Murdoch about half of the 20 million Hulu subscribers pay for the service's $11.99/month No Commercials tier, upgrading from the Limited Commercials option at $7.99/month.
There's an option for the limited-ad experience, and it's about evens, I think.

I think they say, "You know, for four bucks, I'm getting a limited ad ... Four bucks extra, I can do it this. For four bucks less a month, I'll have limited ads. It's not a terrible experience, the ads, it's a much lighter load than you see in broadcast or cable generally."

So, I think they make a choice. And I think once you empower the customer, and you make it really transparent, that it's really about how they're valuing their time, and how they're valuing and dealing with their priorities, then also they complain a lot less about the ads, because they've been given a choice and empowered. So a lot of, I think, what the whole industry is doing is trying to figure this out.
Murdoch also touched upon the company's plans to sell parts of its media assets to Disney, which now could be complicated with an all-cash offer from Comcast. The CEO was expectedly reserved about specific details regarding what could happen with each offer, but made it clear that the company has given far more thought to the regulatory aspects of the Disney deal than it has to any offer from Comcast, saying Fox will "deal with that as we go."

Article Link: 21st Century Fox CEO Says Apple Still Just 'Dabbling' in Original TV Content
 

magicschoolbus

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May 27, 2014
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I have to say I agree with him. Apple's "original" content has been very lackluster - and does not have a collection of "it" shows like Netflix does.

So far Apple's original programming has been very uninspiring and has not caught on to mainstream appeal like a Netflix Stranger Things where people sign up just to watch it. Apple needs something like that - a few times over - before they become a big player in original exclusive content.

I am not saying it won't happen eventually - because eventually, it will.. but I don't think Apple becoming a media powerhouse in original programming is going to happen within the next 2-5 years.
 

Chupa Chupa

macrumors G5
Jul 16, 2002
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Dabbling is generous phrasing. Lot of work for Apple. Netflix is on a talent spree.. And then there is Disney coming online with it's new service in a few years. So far I haven't seen one actual or proposed Apple show that appeals to me.
 

xalea

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Jan 12, 2017
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I don't really understand how Apple plans to make money from all this. Frankly I think a better idea would've been to start Apple Records and produce music with exclusive releases. Obviously iTunes etc. is very well established. Not that many people have an Apple TV and they hardly even update it. I would've gone the music route.
 

Carlanga

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Nov 5, 2009
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Dabbling is generous phrasing. Lot of work for Apple. Netflix is on a talent spree.. And then there is Disney coming online with it's new service in a few years. So far I haven't seen one actual or proposed Apple show that appeals to me.
true, right on the iTunes Ping! I think Apple 2018 thinks they can throw money at any wall and see what sticks and think they can come out ahead without doing anything special.
 
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lars666

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Jul 13, 2008
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Apple has so much money in the bank that they could steal EVERY original content creator talent away from Netflix. Probably could completely defeat Netflix this way much cheaper than buying the (overpriced) company itself. Would be very surprised if Apple doesn't use its money for this strategy - my only explanation for the underwhelming original Apple productions at the moment would be that they they stay true on their "only family-friendly content" rule in every aspect. Which would be very disappointing.
 
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Carlanga

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Carpool Karaoke and that app show (that no one watched) are literally prime examples on why Apple should stay away from this space. This screams 90's Apple, they are stretching themselves wayyyy too thin.
except they have tons of money to throw away now, tons and don't care about finding a good deal for the customer, its all about the max profits instead of the apple tax now.
 

magicschoolbus

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May 27, 2014
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I don't really understand how Apple plans to make money from all this. Frankly I think a better idea would've been to start Apple Records and produce music with exclusive releases. Obviously iTunes etc. is very well established. Not that many people have an Apple TV and they hardly even update it. I would've gone the music route.
I totally agree with you.

Apple could have and should have done this - An Apple Music exclusive release of Jay Z, Beyonce, Beatles Remastered Catalogue, make iTunes act as an exclusive record label and make people come to you for the content. Of course - this should have happened before Spotify changed the game. I feel it would be much harder to do this now. This would of been better positioned when Spotify was just starting - iTunes should of became a streaming platform on the spot with exclusive releases to drive people straight to Apple Music and crush Spotify from the start. But we are still left with a terrible Apple Music design on desktop and mobile and overall a lackluster Apple Music experience with no exclusive content. Apple really missed the boat on streaming in my opinion - along with home delivery (which is another conversation entirely..)
 
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Morgenland

macrumors 6502a
May 28, 2009
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Who cares about James Murdoch's BS?!!

Apple is technically creative first and can place new technologies through sophisticated market vision and knowledge. What's all this entertainment crap? Dealing with movies and music is always a boring market.

Apple has created with Radion Beats 1 something very nice. IMNSHO they should not overdo it and concentrate their resources more on software and hardware.
 
Last edited:

leicaman

macrumors member
Jul 22, 2002
46
7
Carlsbad, CA



In early 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook described the company's plans for original TV content on Apple Music as placing a "toe in the water" for its television ambitions at the time. Eventually, Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke debuted on the service, but since then frequent reports have indicated Apple is now "completely all in" on original content, shifting from reality TV programs on Apple Music to high-quality, $1 billion investments in hour-long programs on par with shows like Westworld.

Despite Apple's evolving plans over the past year and a half, 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch still believes Apple to be "dabbling" in the creative original content space. In an interview at Recode's Code Conference this week, Murdoch was asked what advice he would give to companies who are not traditional TV content-creating companies, but who are getting into the original programming business.


Photo taken by Asa Mathat via Recode


Murdoch explained that 21st Century Fox's angle is "a creative business" and "very entreprenurial," where it empowers creators, creative partners, and creative executives to "push the envelope" in storytelling. He said that "being tolerant of failure is important," leading into his statement about Apple and other companies looking into TV production and their potential fear of failure as an impediment to faster progress.
As of now, there are 13 original shows coming from Apple (although how exactly they will launch remains in question), including new episodes of Amazing Stories, an untitled space drama from the creator of the Battlestar Galactica reboot, a Kristen Wiig sitcom, and other projects from names like Damien Chazelle, M. Night Shyamalan, and Octavia Spencer. Apple has set aside a $1 billion "war chest" for the production of these shows, the first of which could launch as soon as March 2019.

Murdoch appears to think that Apple will roll out its shows "one by one," leading into his argument that it will take a while for the company to have a hit on its hands. It's unclear why the CEO believes that to be Apple's plans, however, since neither Apple nor any rumors have suggested how exactly the company will launch its shows, and how many will hit at once.


One of Apple's rivals in the market will be Hulu, which has its own original TV shows like The Handmaid's Tale, Marvel's Runaways, and the upcoming Stephen King anthology series Castle Rock. 21st Century Fox is one of the owners of Hulu, and according to Murdoch about half of the 20 million Hulu subscribers pay for the service's $11.99/month No Commercials tier, upgrading from the Limited Commercials option at $7.99/month.
Murdoch also touched upon the company's plans to sell parts of its media assets to Disney, which now could be complicated with an all-cash offer from Comcast. The CEO was expectedly reserved about specific details regarding what could happen with each offer, but made it clear that the company has given far more thought to the regulatory aspects of the Disney deal than it has to any offer from Comcast, saying Fox will "deal with that as we go."

Article Link: 21st Century Fox CEO Says Apple Still Just 'Dabbling' in Original TV Content
[doublepost=1527692491][/doublepost]That's what Ballmer said about phones. And the Blackberry fools. And the Palm CEO.

Where are they now? Basketball, cheap Chinese Androids, history.
 

vertical smile

macrumors 601
Sep 23, 2014
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5,936
I don't really understand how Apple plans to make money from all this.
Maybe Apple thinks if they make TV shows and Movies that is only playable on Apple hardware, they will sell more devices, similar to how Apple once treated their software, post-Apple Clones.

Apple would charge premium prices for their hardware, which was good quality, but it was the excellent software Apple provide to entice people to buy their expensive hardware. Even when Apple charged for the Mac OS, I don't think it was a huge money maker for them. But, if you wanted to use the Mac OS or iOS (legally), you had to buy their hardware. Apple's software has gone downhill lately, so this is probably not the case anymore though.
 
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tom5304

macrumors regular
May 7, 2005
211
110
Ad-free is the only way I’ll watch television in any form, and I’m willing to pay for it. I already do with Hulu/Netflix/Amazon Prime. I haven’t watched live television in years, and I don’t miss it.

The only television commercials I see are at the gym or in a waiting room somewhere. Television commercials are unbearable to me. So insulting to anyone’s intelligence.
 

Rojo

macrumors 65816
Sep 26, 2006
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I actually think some of the upcoming Apple TV shows sounded interesting, and they certainly have major talent involved.

But the problem was when I heard they’d all be “family-friendly.” Now if 25% or even half of them were, then...fine. But ALL??

Nope, sorry... this “network” is dead already.

I honestly don’t understand it. They sell mature content on iTunes (shows, films, music). I heard it was so they could play it in Apple Stores. But...really??? Just use an edited version for the stores (like they do on airplanes). Then you could have the best of both worlds.

The fact that they are already limiting the potential of these shows so greatly is really worrying news...
 
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ipponrg

macrumors 68000
Oct 15, 2008
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Apple has so much money in the bank that they could steal EVERY original content creator talent away from Netflix. Probably could completely defeat Netflix this way much cheaper than buying the (overpriced) company itself. Would be very surprised if Apple doesn't use its money for this strategy - my only explanation for the underwhelming original Apple productions at the moment would be that they they stay true on their "only family-friendly content" rule in every aspect. Which would be very disappointing.
Love it how people continually think money is the fix for everything. Maybe you can explain why some of Apple's first party software is atrocious given how much cash in the bank they have. Talent doesn't always go where the money is.
 

bluecoast

macrumors 65816
Nov 7, 2017
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I agree, I can only think that Apple is getting in the game to build expertise and experience to make a larger acquisition

It’ll have to be a big aquisition too.

They’ll need way more programming in order to build up a service that people will subscribe to.

Maybe they’re waiting for Netflix’s bubble to burst so they can make a swoop.

Like many have said, I’ve wondered why they haven’t set up their own music label.

I can only assume that the labels have it in their contracts with Apple that it won’t do that.

I also wonder how Apple is going to deal with a situation like Roseanne with their first party shows. Something controversial will end up happening at some point.

Apple are used to being squeaky clean, but are they ready for what can happen when they start bringing in lots of ‘creative’ people under the Apple name?
 
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corebeliefs

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Dec 28, 2016
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Apple is just as interested in creating a media narrative, and perhaps a political narrative, as it is creating hardware. Media content is the rich company's way of stamping its vision on the world. Netflix giving Obama multi millions of dollars, someone who has never created content before, but is politically licensed, is just an example. I don't think Apple cares if this content stuff makes money.
 

ksec

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Dec 23, 2015
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I wish someone could explain, on the business side of it. How you invest $1 billion into an original TV programme and expect what sort of return? $1 Billion is gigantic amount of money. I know it is tiny in Apple's pocket. But it is still huge.

I am actually strongly against Apple creating an Original TV just to kick start the Apple TV business.
They wish to use their customer loyalty to kick start Apple TV as the gatekeeper of TV programme. And collect 30% of the Subscription revenue. But I doubt that will work, and on a Global view of things, it will never work. I can bet $100 it won't work in Japan, Korea and China. 80% sure it won't work in UK or Germany.

If Apple TV is no longer an hobby, it is a half assed attempt of what they want.

Apple could have provided the infrastructure of TV / Streaming delivery. Basically every Apps that has a subscription via Apple, will have their Video or Audio content streamed via Apple Network. Dramatically saving the huge bandwidth cost. Apple has all the connection with ISP and Mobile Carrier, they could set up a CDN like where Apple Server and Cache are placed near or inside their Network. They could further provide Encoding options in the Cloud, to make things easier for content producers. So content producer can focus on what they do best.

With all these handled via Apple, all of a sudden the 30% cut seems like a bargain.
 
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corebeliefs

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I wish someone could explain, on the business side of it. How you invest $1 billion into an original TV programme and expect what sort of return? $1 Billion is gigantic amount of money. I know it is tiny in Apple's pocket. But it is still huge.
Because they're not in it for the money? I commented up earlier in the thread, content is a vanity project for companies to get their message across. Apple starting with family-friendly, probably as a way to seed its content into the most homes as possible. I can't believe that that's Apple's end game.

When you hear that Apple cancels a very successful airport line because it's just not big enough peanuts for them, and then goes into content creation, competing with bedroom YouTube creators, and all of the major players in streaming, does it make a lot of sense when you always hear from Apple, it has to have a huge payout for us to want to do it.
 
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