Jon Stewart Returns With a ‘Current Events’ Series for Apple TV+

John Koblin, reporting for The New York Times:

Mr. Stewart, the former anchor of “The Daily Show,” has reached a deal to host a current-affairs series for Apple TV+, the company announced on Tuesday. Apple TV+ said it had ordered the series for multiple seasons. It will feature one-hour episodes, each dedicated to a single topic. Apple did not describe the format — whether it would be an interview series or something closer to John Oliver’s weekly HBO series — or specify how many episodes it would have per season. Apple did not set a premiere date, either.

When one company dominates an industry, especially one whose meteoric rise to the top remains fresh in everyone’s minds, it’s human nature to measure all competitors through a filter skewed by that leader. In streaming premium video content, that leader whose meteoric rise remains fresh-in-mind is Netflix. “How does Apple TV+ make sense for $5 a month when Netflix is like $13?” That’s a question a lot of people asked. Me too! There are competitors who, whether they admit it or not, are trying to out-Netflix Netflix, and are probably (and in most cases, definitely) going to fail. Netflix is popular and successful because they’re really good at being Netflix.

Apple TV+ isn’t trying to out-Netflix Netflix. They’re out-HBO-ing HBO — while HBO, newly-owned by AT&T, the Pepsi of phone companies, is hamfistedly pissing away what made HBO HBO by trying to out-Netflix Netflix. I swear that’s probably half the reason they went with the name “HBO Max” — Netflix has an X at the end of their name, so should we.

M.G. Siegler suggested this “Apple TV+ is the new HBO” notion on my podcast last month and I’m convinced he’s right. Apple has even recruited ex-HBO leadership. From Koblin’s report for The Times:

The Apple TV+ show will be produced by Mr. Stewart’s Busboy Productions and Richard Plepler’s Eden Productions. Mr. Plepler, who was chief executive of HBO when the network made Mr. Stewart’s deal, has had a production deal with Apple TV+ since late last year.

What business does Apple have making original content?” is another reasonable question raised by their foray into TV and movies. If you buy into the theory that the model for TV+ is what HBO used to be, Tim Cook offered a justification in July, in his prepared statement testifying before the House Judiciary Committee:

Motivated by the mission to put things into the world that enrich people’s lives, and believing deeply that the way we do that is by making the best not the most, Apple has produced many revolutionary products, not least of which is the iPhone.

The best not the most. That was HBO, and that seems to be the model for Apple TV+.

Wednesday, 28 October 2020