Apple steps up TV game

Apple aims to release a remake of Steven Spielberg's science-fiction anthology series Amazing Stories.
Apple aims to release a remake of Steven Spielberg's science-fiction anthology series Amazing Stories.PHOTO: SCREENSHOT FROM YOUTUBE / BETA MAX

ATLANTA • Apple's plan to take a bite of the television business of Netflix and Amazon just got more teeth.

The maker of the iPhone and iPad aims to release a remake of Steven Spielberg's science-fiction anthology series Amazing Stories (1985 to 1987), according to NBCUniversal, one of the TV companies working with the technology giant.

Amazing Stories would be the first original series Apple has agreed to finance since the world's most valuable technology company hired two Sony executives to shepherd its nascent efforts in TV production.

After years of selling other companies' TV shows and movies in its iTunes store, Apple has taken the plunge into Hollywood and begun competing with those same companies for the rights to produce future TV series. It has pledged to spend US$1 billion (S$1.36 billion) on original productions next year.

Apple is paying US$5 million an episode for Amazing Stories, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"We love being at the forefront of Apple's investment in scripted programming and can't think of a better property than Spielberg's beloved Amazing Stories franchise," Ms Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment, said.

It is still unclear how Apple will release its shows - or when. But selling media services has taken on a new urgency at the company as sales of iPhones have slowed.

It sells the Apple TV, a box that enables customers to watch an array of streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

And it recently released its own app collating TV shows and movies from across the ever-growing constellation of streaming services.

It has also been buying original movies and TV shows for its music app, the second-largest paid music service in the world after Spotify.

Apple Music has released unscripted series Planet Of The Apps and Carpool Karaoke and is about to release a documentary about music industry legend Clive Davis.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2017, with the headline 'Apple steps up TV game'. Print Edition | Subscribe