Today, Business Insider published a fascinating article that featured soundbits and tidbits from Hollywood agents working with Apple, as well as insiders from Apple’s content arm, Apple TV+.
Although Apple is clearly the most financially resourced company, the Insider article suggests that Apple TV+’s content division is understaffed or, perhaps more generously, going through growing pains, leading to difficulties in rolling out new content.
Reports say Apple’s TV infrastructure is underdeveloped, with various issues such as last-minute marketing plans like not having press materials ready in time for a new show’s launch disrupting Apple’s ability to market the show effectively.
A number of sources have claimed that Apple’s lawyers are unfamiliar with Hollywood’s standard entertainment law practices. An Apple executive claimed that the company had already begun streaming a show before a contract had been signed, indicating that the company simply needed more employees to handle the increased throughput.
Pandemic production delays have put Apple in a position where they have to manage more projects than ever before. Internal management issues are being highlighted, according to the insider, because there aren’t enough resources. In addition, there has been a reported problem of employee burnout due to the heavy workloads. Each Friday in 2022, the service premiered a new premium series or film, not including returning series or the steady stream of children’s content. More announcements are on the way for the upcoming months, so stay tuned!
Apple TV+ wants to produce more and more of its own content, rather than relying on licensing from other studios. In the words of an anonymous agent, “They want to make everything themselves, but they don’t have the people,” says the report.
The leadership of Apple TV+ is also a source of controversy. For example, Matt Dentler, a long-time executive at the iTunes Store, is currently in charge of the film division. An insider tells Insider that Jamie Erlicht and Zack van Amburg have discussed hiring an industry heavyweight to lead movie strategy, which would help Apple’s reputation as a film studio with talent and agents. Nonetheless, Dentler’s group recently won three Oscars for Apple under his leadership, so perhaps things are fine as they are.
Apple’s expansion into sports content, starting with MLB Friday Night Baseball next week, exacerbates the growing pains issues. Furthermore, Insider claims that it’s not clear whether Erlicht and Amburg backed the move into sports or if Services SVP Eddy Cue and Apple Services VP Peter Stern are really in charge. Erlicht and Amburg have not been reached for comment.
Although Insider focuses on the content division, it is also true that TV+’s technical side is underdeveloped, with general customer complaints about a confusing app UI, persistent streaming quality issues on devices such as Roku and Amazon Fire for some users, account log-in issues, particularly on third-party platforms, a very primitive web experience, a lack of an Android or Windows app, and disappearing subtitling bugs that impair TV.
However, 9to5Mac understands that the Apple Media Services group, which is responsible for the TV app as well as other media services like the Music app, has been hiring and expanding aggressively in recent months, so perhaps improvements to the tech stack are already underway.
Even if Apple’s content teams are actually stretched thin, the end product for the customer doesn’t appear to have been adversely affected. After a strong start to the year with critically acclaimed series like Severance, Pachinko, Slow Horses, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, and The Afterparty, Apple’s overall product quality is still excellent. Despite the fact that Apple does not disclose viewership figures, Severance, in particular, seems to be gaining a lot of attention through word of mouth.