Apple poaches top Sony TV execs to boost video content

Reuters




(Adds analyst comments, updates trading)
    By Lisa Richwine and Piya Sinha-RoyJune 16 (Reuters) - Apple Inc <AAPL.O> 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," will
join Apple in newly created positions that will oversee all
aspects of video programming, the technology giant said in a
statement on Friday. The pair have been Sony Pictures presidents
since 2005. [nBw2jWZkSa]
    "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," said Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice
president of Internet Software and Services.
    "There is much more to come," Cue said of Apple's video
effort.
    Hollywood has been awaiting the entry of deep-pocketed Apple
into original video series, an increasingly competitive market.
    Social media giant Facebook Inc <FB.O> has signed deals with
millennial-focused news and entertainment creators, including
Vox and BuzzFeed, to make shows for its upcoming video service
[nL1N1IP1NM], while Amazon <AMZN.O> and Netflix <NFLX.O> have
invested billions of dollars in award-winning comedies and
dramas.
    Apple began its move into the field last week, with a
reality program called "Planet of the Apps," an unscripted show
about developers competing for venture capital funding.
[nL1N1J21QP]

    VIEWER DATA
    The company's future programming includes an adaptation of
comedian James Corden's "Carpool Karaoke" segment from his CBS
<CBS.N> show that will begin airing in August, and documentaries
about Sean Combs and Clive Davis.
    As tech companies push further into the content business,
pressure mounts on traditional media companies that do not have
the same amount of data on viewers or the ability for content to
be a loss leader, said Rich Greenfield, an analyst with BTIG.
   "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."
    While the news of Apple's hires is a warning to legacy media
companies in general, it is particularly bad news for Walt
Disney Co <DIS.N>, which had been rumored to be an acquisition
target for Apple, Greenfield said.
    "It's pretty clear now that Apple isn't buying Disney," he
said.
    Disney shares slumped 0.7 percent in afternoon trading to
$105.21. Apple shares shed 0.6 percent to $143.35 per share.
    Apple has one huge advantage compared to other media
companies - 1 billion iPhones, iPads and other devices that run
Apple's mobile operating system and offer a broad distribution
platform for video programming.
    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.

 (Additonal reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Anya George
Tharakan in Bengaluru, Anna Driver and Jessica Toonkel in New
York and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Writing by Franklin
Paul; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
 ((supantha.mukherjee@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S.+1 646 223
8780, outside U.S. +91 80 6749 6101; Reuters Messaging:
supantha.mukherjee.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: APPLE TELEVISION/ (UPDATE 3)





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