Apple Inc. hired two former Sony Corp. television executives who oversaw the development of acclaimed shows like “Breaking Bad” and “The Crown,” further evidence that the technology giant is getting serious about producing its own video programming.
Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who had been presidents of Sony Pictures Television since 2005, will report to Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services, according to a statement Friday. The duo had helped Sony’s television studio take advantage of the demand for high-quality series spurred by streaming services like Netflix Inc.
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, has been adding documentaries and reality shows to its Apple Music subscription service, providing a way to test video streaming. The iPhone maker could use exclusive video as a way to keep rival services from dragging customers away from its products, though creating buzzworthy programs is difficult and expensive. Netflix alone will spend more than $6 billion this year on programming, including about 1,000 hours of original shows.
Apple is aiming to double its revenue from services by 2020 from last year’s $24 billion. The company introduced a TV app last year that serves as a gateway to other video providers’ offerings, and is negotiating with studios to offer films via iTunes closer to the theatrical release date, people familiar with the discussions told Bloomberg News in December.
“We want to bring to video what Apple has been so successful with in their other services and consumer products — unparalleled quality,” Erlicht said in the statement.
Sony’s new studio chief, Tony Vinciquerra, announced Erlicht’s and Van Amburg’s departures on Thursday in a memo to employees. He said other leaders of the unit will manage the transition while the company searches for a replacement.