Apple tried to ‘buy its way into Hollywood’ to launch Apple TV+

Apple TV+ promo banner for. The Morning Show

It has not been a secret that getting Apple TV+ up and running wasn’t the easiest thing Apple has ever done, and a new report sheds light on yet another avenue the company considered to get its video streaming service off the ground.

Bloomberg has a profile of the Apple TV+ service ahead of its launch on November 1. It mostly treads water on a lot of details we’ve already heard in the past, including the fact that Apple’s bent towards secrecy hasn’t been great for early production on some shows, and just how much money Apple is spending on others.

But one of the more interesting bits in the profile deals with one of the ways that Apple was planning to jumpstart its Apple TV+ initiative — even if it’s not entirely new on its own. We get to hear yet again that Apple basically tried to buy its way into Hollywood to get Apple TV+ to the masses, with the company aiming to buy production companies like Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment.

The one new detail is that it turns out Apple actually got pretty close to successfully buying Imagine.

Cue pursued Imagine Entertainment, the production company led by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. The two producers, whose work includes A Beautiful Mind, Friday Night Lights, and Empire, flew to Cupertino to present Cue with a term sheet.

Tim, a Happy Days fan, made a surprise appearance to see Howard, who played Richie Cunningham on the 1970s sitcom. But Grazer and Howard eventually bailed after deciding they didn’t want to be employees of a large company, according to people familiar with the negotiation.

That potential deal falling apart is what led Apple to hire former Sony executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht in 2017. And of course, those new hires basically helped pave the way to Apple’s current plan: bid on particular series and films and documentaries (similar to how Netflix works), and, like Amazon, start its own in-house production company called Masters. The first series from Apple’s own production companies is the recently announced Masters of the Air, which is a follow-up to the popular Band of Brothers and The Pacific, both of which originally aired on HBO years ago.

Interestingly, the report also says that unnamed executives at Apple have taken exception to the codenames for Apple TV+ series and films, and the requirements to sign nondisclosure agreements. And, indeed, both Van Amburg and Erlicht admitted that it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster to launch a service from scratch at Apple:

At Apple’s first Hollywood premiere, in October, Van Amburg and Erlicht addressed the sense of whiplash head-on. “Zack and I knew how to create a premium, high-quality, great show,” Erlicht said.

“What, in retrospect, we didn’t know how to do was create from scratch a premium service at Apple.”

The full profile at Bloomberg is worth a read, especially if you want to keep up-to-date on all the details regarding the upcoming launch of Apple TV+.

As of September 10, anyone who buys a new or refurbished Apple product that can stream Apple TV+ will get a year’s worth of the streaming service for free.

Which series are you looking forward to most to checking out when Apple TV+ launches on November 1?