Apple TV+: State of Slate 🎬
Three years in, a strategy takes shape: A-listers > franchises
Earlier installments of The Ankler’s State of Slate series covered Netflix, Sony, Paramount, WB and Universal, and are for paid subscribers only.
November 1, 2019. This is the day the biggest company on Earth and the planet’s one true global aspirational brand came to Hollywood, jumping headlong into the Streaming Wars. Oprah took the stage at the launch event with Apple CEO Tim Cook as part of their partnership (and now, she has exited it).
The initial slate was interesting but not overwhelming. It included The Morning Show, never quite a hit despite boasting three stars — Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell. There was also Jason Momoa series See, Hailee Steinfeld period comedy Dickinson, alternate history drama For All Mankind, which is still picking up steam in Season 3, and nature documentary The Elephant Queen — followed shortly by a second wave of programming that included M. Night Shyamalan’s psychological horror series Servant, legal drama Truth Be Told, and the coming-of-age movie Hala led by rising star Geraldine Viswanathan, Apple’s first scripted feature (albeit an acquisition).
By Streaming Wars-standards, it was a modest opening from former Sony Pictures Television heads Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, who left that TV studio to build something from the ground up, armed with some of the world’s deepest pockets. (As of this writing, Apple has a market cap of $2.5 trillion dollars.) Good luck beating the studio in a bidding war.
When Apple sees something it likes, the studio goes after it hard, from this year’s Sundance darling Cha Cha Real Smooth (price: $15 million) to last year’s CODA, which shocked Hollywood and won Best Picture after being acquired out of the festival for $25 million. Even if Apple TV+ is small in subscribers — our Entertainment Strategy Guy estimates the number now to be around 13 million, about as tiny as Peacock and AMC — the streamer punches above its weight in awards and A-list allure.
That said, secrecy is part of Apple’s nature, so naturally, the company declined to comment on its awards slate or even specify what its content budget is. It’s unclear whether the streamer spends on the same level as its rivals, though it’s certainly placing big bets. Those bets, no doubt, come straight from the top, where the company’s leaders seem to have warmed to the pricey awards circuit given Apple’s success at the Oscars and Emmys thus far.
Today, I’ll reveal:
Apple TV+’s org chart
What’s coming the rest of 2022 and into 2023
New revenue-sharing deal terms
Every single first look or overall deal
Let’s start with the studio’s org chart: