Sun, Jun 18, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Apple hires two top Sony TV executives

‘PLANET OF THE APPS’:Apple last week began its foray into the competitive world of original online programming with a show about developers competing for funding

Reuters, LOS ANGELES

Apple Inc has hired two long-time Sony Pictures Television executives to expand the iPhone maker’s push into original television programming, plunging deeper into a field crowded by Hollywood studios and online streaming services.

Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, responsible for hit shows such as Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and The Crown, are to join Apple in newly created positions to oversee all aspects of video programming, the company said in a statement on Friday.

“Jamie and Zack are two of the most talented TV executives in the world and have been instrumental in making this the golden age of television,” Apple senior vice president of Internet software and services Eddy Cue said.

Erlicht and Van Amburg have served as senior Sony television executives since 2005.

“There is much more to come,” Cue said of Apple’s video effort.

Apple did not elaborate on its strategy, leaving investors guessing how many shows it plans to distribute, how much it is to spend and where the programming would be available.

The company is playing in an increasingly competitive field.

Amazon.com Inc and Netflix Inc have invested billions of US dollars in award-winning comedies and dramas featuring A-list Hollywood stars, and Facebook Inc has signed deals with millennial-focused news and entertainment creators, including Vox and BuzzFeed, to make shows for its upcoming video service.

Apple began its move last week with reality program Planet of the Apps, an unscripted show about developers competing for venture capital funding.

The series is available only to subscribers to Apple Music, a US$10-a-month streaming service.

As tech companies push further into the content business, pressure mounts on traditional media outlets that do not have the same amount of data on viewers or the ability for content to be a loss leader, BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield said.

“These companies do not need to make money off video because they can make money other ways,” Greenfield said. “And they are going to have tons of data on their viewers.”

Greenfield said news of Apple’s hires should put to rest rumors that Apple might acquire another content company, Walt Disney Co.

“It’s pretty clear now that Apple isn’t buying Disney,” he said.

Disney shares were down 0.5 percent at US$105.40 on Friday afternoon, while Apple shares were down 0.9 percent at US$143.01.

For Sony, the departures come as the Japanese conglomerate revamps its movie and television studio under new chief executive Tony Vinciquerra.

In a memo to staff, Vinciquerra suggested Apple could be a buyer of Sony programming.

“While we are sad to see them go, we are excited by the opportunity to work with them as partners in the future,” he said.

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