Apple TV Plus can afford to gamble $6 billion in a way that Disney and Hulu can’t – The Verge

House of Cards
Apple is reportedly spending $6 billion on its initial lineup of TV shows, documentary series, and other originals that will land on its streaming service, Apple TV Plus. That’s about $5 billion more than what Apple was originally slated to spend, according to a Financial Times report. It’s also about 25 percent of Disney’s entire 2019 content budget. Unlike Disney — which will allocate just under $7 billion of its estimated $24 billion content budget this year on sports properties like ESPN and another huge portion on theatrical releases — Apple is focusing its content budget entirely on streaming. So it might make more sense to compare Apple’s creative budget to Netflix’s. While Netflix is currently spending upwards of $15 billion on its own original series and films this year — more than 300 originals shot around the world — it took six years to get to that level of spending. When Netflix first started looking into developing original content back in 2012 and 2013, its budget was much smaller. By the time Netflix’s first major original series, House of Cards, debuted in 2013, the company had a content budget of about $2.3 billion, which mostly went toward licensing movies ....

The company reportedly spent around $500, 000 an episode for the rights to Friends in 2014, which is roughly $30 million a season for 10 seasons. It was a huge part of the company’s content investment, but it paid off: Friends became one of Netflix’s most-watched shows, and it helped retain subscribers over the next four years. WarnerMedia, which reportedly bought back the rights to Friends for $425 million, is expected to spend about $11 billion on content this year. Apple is focusing its content budget entirely on streaming Apple hasn’t joined in on the race to secure popular licensed shows like The Office and Friends, which suggests it’s focusing that $6 billion primarily or entirely on original content. The company is investing in prestige series like The Morning Show and See, which are budgeted at a reported $15 million per episode, putting them on par with Game of Thrones’ final season. But The Morning Show is not Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones was a cultural phenomenon that used its budget to secure expensive location spots around the world and build realistic-looking CGI dragons. .

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