Apple could be considering original TV programming; here are some reasons why it should

Apple is exploring the possibility of getting into the original programming business, claims Variety.  It's certainly  an idea that’s worth mulling over.

Here's Variety's take: "The scale of Apple’s ambitions vary depending on whom is asked, but one high-level executive who talked with the company said the goal is to create development and production divisions that would churn out long-form content to stream in a bid to compete with Netflix. Apple is hoping to put a headhunting firm on those hires in the coming months, according to source, with the goal of being in operation next year. Unknown is whether the focus is on TV series, movies–or both."

This is not the first time talk of original Apple programming has popped up. In a Seeking Alpha op-ed in April, author Steve Mallas said it’s for Apple to consider making movies and television shows, entering into competition with companies like Disney and Netflix.

Mallas' points were: 

° Apple must find ways of investing its cash (it has a market cap well over US$700 billion), so why not make movies and TV programming?

° Apple could use quality shows and movies to make its Apple TV platform more valuable. “… content is extremely important and basically helps to define and power a platform in the first place,” he writes. “There is a connection between Apple’s DNA and storytelling. Look no further than Pixar. Steve Jobs helped build that company and brand into a powerhouse animation studio. Disney eventually had to own it.”

Mallas points out that there’s “incredible risk to investing in storytelling, but Apple might increase shareholder value over time by exposure to entertainment.” “Shareholders may not like such a proposal for Apple for two very important reasons,” he says. “First, it’s hard to quantify the risk of content production – a faster processor speed has more inarguable value than a movie about zombies fighting vampires. Second, transparency in the field of movie economics is nonexistent.”

I think he has some valid points. However, I don’t think there’s any way Apple can compete with Disney in content creation (nor would it want to, since Disney and Apple seem to have a very amiable relationship). And creating its own original content wouldn’t prevent it from offering Netflix (or Hulu or Amazon) channels on the Apple TV.

This reminds me of a point I’ve raised previously. In a 2013 article for Pajiba, Steve Lloyd Wilson said that Netflix could democratize television by becoming the “white knight” that rescues beloved TV series canned by the networks. But why not Apple instead?

Netflix got tons of publicity — and accolades — for its revival of the short-lived-but-critically-acclaimed comedy, Arrested Development. And folks are hoping that Netflix will revive other shows that died before their time.

Here’s Wilson’s clever proposal (which you can read in its entirety here): “Netflix should form a little working group of accountants, lawyers, pollsters, and maybe even an entertainment expert or two. Then this group should make a list of every television show cancelled in the last decade, and do a very specific and detailed write up of it. How much would it cost to produce per episode? What are the salaries of creative people involved? In other words, do the legwork that produces an estimate of what it will take to make this happen.

“Then make a Kickstarter page for every single one of those television shows, with a special twist to it. Make all the research completely transparent and right on the donation page. Give fans a line-by-line description of exactly what money would be needed and why.”

Interesting, eh? But what if Apple were to jump in this space before Netflix and offer original programming a la the iTunes Store?

Or take it one step further: what if it offered an iTunes Channel that does same thing as Wilson proposed for Netflix — and more? Just imagine the excitement were Apple to release an actual television that came with original programming.

Imagine an iTunes Channel — or even a section on the iTunes Store where you could buy or rent original programming –with new episodes of Firefly, Alcatraz or — a wild dream of mine — Nowhere Man. Or, as recommended by Bryan Wolfe at App Advice) imagine Apple working Disney’s Pixar to create original children’s programming only available on Apple devices.

I’d definitely be in. Would you?