Senior Apple executives reportedly clashing over who gets to secure major Hollywood deals

Apple’s ambitions in terms of securing lucrative deals with Hollywood are reportedly being stymied by internal infighting between three senior executives who have been clashing over who will secure the first major content deal for Apple TV. According to The New York Post, Hollywood insiders are scratching their heads over who exactly is driving the effort.

The report mentions that Eddy Cue, Apple’s Senior Vice President in charge of Internet Software and Services, former Beats head Jimmy Iovine and Apple’s content chief Robert Kondrk are all said to be involved with the negotiations.

“Robert Kondrk, Eddy Cue, Jimmy Iovine, everyone is trying to be the person,” one insider told the publication. “They each want to be the guy, and they’re telling people, don’t deal with the other one.”

“Eddy is talking to some people. Jimmy is talking to others,” noted a second insider. “They just haven’t figured it out.” Another source added that Apple seems to have “a lot of trepidation” about the world of Hollywood entertainment.

Cue and Apple’s boss Tim Cook are reportedly on the hunt in La La Land, with visions of studio mogulhood dancing in their heads. Last week, Cue allegedly held talks with Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures, two of the biggest film studios in Hollywood.

Apple is currently dippings its toes in original content with Apple Music-exclusives such as “Carpool Karaoke” and “Planet of the Apps”, but sources said that the Cupertino company may be “preparing something big,” potentially looking for a “transformative acquisition” in the entertainment space rather than “just a deal to buy TV shows”.

If Apple is looking to acquire big name players in Hollywood, I don’t think Netflix would be the right pick due to its sheer size, market valuation (nearly $60 billion) and unique corporate culture. The Cupertino firm reportedly considered acquiring Time Warner but ultimately failed, leaving the field clear for AT&T’s $80 billion buy.

A recent Bloomberg article blamed lack of major takeover deals on Apple’s arrogance and risk aversion, but offered no proof beyond quotes from investment bankers who argued that the Cupertino company should hire investment bankers to make more large acquisitions (so that these bankers could get their fair share of Apple’s cash).

The iPhone maker, however, is frequently mentioned as a potential partner for Disney. Notably, Disney CEO Robert Iger has a seat on Apple’s board of directors while Jobs’s widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, has a stake in Disney through a trust established following her husband’s passing.

Powell was Disney’s largest single shareholder before recently reducing her ownership stake in the Mouse House by half, according to an SEC disclosure in January 2017. She now owns less than five percent of Disney’s outstanding shares.

Apple has for years attempted to persuade content owners to allow it to sell their programming in an à la carte fashion, something Hollywood has long resisted. The company then focused its energies on trying to put together a so-called skinny bundle of the most popular channels, to no avail.

“We’re not in the business of trying to create TV shows,” Apple’s Eddy Cue was quoted as saying recently. “We’re not trying to compete with Netflix or compete with Comcast.”

“In terms of original content, we’ve put our toe in the water doing some original content for Apple Music, and that will be rolling out throughout the year,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook on a recent conference call. “We’re learning from that and we’ll go from there.”

As a slap in Apple’s face, Google’s YouTube announced this week a streaming live TV bundle, called YouTube TV, which offers content from four major networks (Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC) and 39 other local broadcast networks and channels like ESPN, with unlimited DVR, for $35 per month.

Google’s new service will be live later this spring.

Source: The New York Post