[Update: Bloomberg cooberates.]
Apple appears to be taking original content production very seriously. Building on significant talent hires, the Wall Street Journal writes Apple has readied a $1 billion budget to ‘procure and produce’ content over the next year.
The report says the sum is about half what HBO spent on production last year. Apple could launch up to ten new shows, with Apple SVP Eddy Cue said to have ambitions to offer shows that rival Game of Thrones.
Apple’s initial rounds of content have not been runaway successes, with Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke receiving bad-to-mild reviews from critics. Reach of the shows has also been limited to users with Apple Music subscriptions.
However, until recently, it didn’t really feel like Apple was giving much priority to original content efforts. With a large wallet and premiere talent leading the video programming division, it is likely that the quality of Apple’s in-development programming will also be higher.
The report notes that Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, the Sony veterans Apple hired in June, started work in early August and have taken over video production responsibilities from the Apple Music team. The execs have already held meetings with Hollywood to find shows to acquire.
It isn’t clear yet how the new shows will be released to customers. Apple currently hosts Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke on Apple Music, but it seems likely that the company will double-down on a true, dedicated, internet TV service with the new initiatives.
In terms of hardware, a new Apple TV set-top box is expected to launch later this year with support for 4K output. The product could be announced as soon as September, alongside the new iPhone and Apple Watch models.