Apple could’ve become the second largest media company in the world following Disney.
According to the Financial Times, a top Apple executive proposed bidding for Time Warner, the media company that owns the Warner Bros. movie studio, HBO, and CNN. Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior VP of Internet services (including iTunes), brought up the idea with Olaf Olafsson, Time Warner’s head of corporate strategy, in late 2015. However, the proposed bid never went anywhere—the discussions were so preliminary that Apple CEO Tim Cook was not involved, according to the reports.
Even though Apple’s acquisition of Time Warner never materialized, Cue’s proposition suggests that Apple is serious about investing in original content. Besides HBO, Time Warner owns a lot of other cable channels and has a stake in several iconic entertainment properties, from the Looney Tunes to Harry Potter. According to Wikipedia, Time Warner is the second largest media company in the world, second only to Disney, with a market capitalization of $60 billion.
In January, Time Warner’s CEO was reportedly exploring a sale or an HBO spinoff. Because of Time Warner’s assets, “everybody wants to own us,” he told Variety at the time.
Why this matters: Apple acquiring Time Warner, or even just HBO, would make the Cupertino company a serious competitor against Netflix and Amazon, which are currently dominating the streaming wars.
“For Time Warner—and essentially HBO—to become Apple’s original content production assets in some form or another, that would very much help it catch up with the likes of Netflix and Amazon in terms of having potentially quality proprietary content on its platform,” James Cordwell, an analyst at Atlantic Securities, told Bloomberg.
Cue’s proposition also comes at a time when Apple has been facing hurdles in licensing content for its rumored TV streaming service. The latest that’s come out of that is that Apple’s TV service has been delayed indefinitely.
Apple’s dream subscription service would’ve reportedly allowed viewers to select and pay for a mini-bundle of network and cable channels. These channels would then be live-streamed via the Apple TV set-top box. However, it seems that Apple and the TV networks could not reach an understanding about how much said subscription service should cost. According to an earlier Bloomberg report, Apple wanted to charge $40, or half the typical cable bill, but the TV networks wanted more.
Apple has already started commissioning original content. The company’s first original shows include an unscripted series about the app economy and a hip-hop show led by Beats co-founder Dr. Dre.
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Media and Entertainment Industry
Oscar writes about iOS, mobile culture and digital music. He also hosts 'The iPhone Show' from Macworld's San Francisco HQ.