Apple’s foray in the ever-crowded streaming space raises some big questions about the kinds of content an otherwise clean-cut company plans to create. If Eddy Cue is to be believed, Apple plans to tackle content with a markedly different approach from streaming rival Netflix, which has a reputation for churning out heaps of charitably mediocre original content.
In a lengthy interview with the Times, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services addressed rumors of the so-described “Netflix killer,” insisting that it would not be doing the absolute most when it comes to original programming and would instead focus on “creating the best” content. When questioned about Netflix’s own strategy, Cue replied: “Their motto is to create a lot of content so there’s always something for you to watch, and it’s working really well. There’s nothing wrong with that model, but it’s not our model.”
Whether Apple’s TV+ ambitions will fit the mold of “good content” will likely depend on whether the few rumors we’ve heard about the product prove true. For example, the Wall Street Journal reported last September that CEO Tim Cook was overly preoccupied with depictions of excessive violence, profanity, or sex. The report claimed that it was this narrow tolerance for racy script-writing that put Dr. Dre’s semi-biographical Vital Signs on ice and earned Apple’s original programming the rumored title of “expensive NBC.”
What we know of the limited roster of Apple TV+ content offerings so far is, well, not exactly mindblowing. During a launch event in March, Apple revealed a collection of series that certainly had the celebrity chops to pique interest—talent includes Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, J.J. Abrams, Steven Spielberg, and Oprah—but lacked the same splashy introduction as teased by yet another streaming rival, Disney+. A soggy rumor that Airbnb may have its hands in some travel-focused content for the platform isn’t doing Apple any favors.
Cue claimed that one of Apple’s highly touted forthcoming series starring Witherspoon and Aniston, The Morning Show, will deal with “real issues occurring in the workplace” and in terms of quality “is really, really good.” It’s difficult to imagine that a series dealing with complex issues wouldn’t veer into territory Apple seems as yet averse to dealing with in a fictional setting, but we so far have little more than a glimpse to show us what to expect from this series.
Cue also told the Times that Apple plans to create content at a clip of a new product every month. Given that we know of fewer than a dozen of Apple’s forthcoming series, lackluster as many currently sound, that means Apple may still have quite a bit of programming in the works that it’s playing close to the chest.
With damn-near everyone getting in on the streaming space, a promise of quality over quantity is reassuring. Apple may need to divorce its squeaky clean image from its content division to do it, though. Production value is certainly something Apple TV+ may have a leg up on over Netflix. But without strong entertainment offerings, is the product really that much better than Netflix’s relentless buffet of shitty content?