‘WSJ’: Apple to spend about $1 billion to product original TV content

Apple has set a budget of roughly $1 billion to procure and produce original content over the next year, according to the Wall Street Journal, and could acquire and produce as many as 10 television shows. The company has also hired Matt Cherniss, former president and general manager of WGN America, an American basic cable and satellite television channel owned by Tribune Broadcasting.

The $1 billion budget will be in the hands of Hollywood veterans Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, two former TV execs who joined the company in June newly created positions overseeing all aspects of video programming. They join Apple from Sony Pictures Television.

Under their leadership, the studio’s slate of original primetime series more than tripled, growing to include many of TV’s most acclaimed shows. They have extensive expertise producing television for global audiences and creating programming for a wide range of services, including shows for Amazon, Hulu and Netflix. Their roster of programs — which have won 36 Emmys and dozens of Golden Globes, AFI and WGA awards — have included fan favorites such as Better Call Saul, The Blacklist, Bloodline, Breaking Bad, The Crown, Damages, The Goldbergs, Justified, Preacher, Rescue Me, The Shield, Sneaky Pete and more.

Regarding Cherniss, Variety (http://variety.com/2017/tv/news/matt-cherniss-apple-1202528939/) reports that Apple has hired him to oversee development at their new worldwide video unit. He’ll serve under Erlicht and Amburg.

Cherniss left WGN America and Tribune after they were acquired by Sinclair Broadcasting. During his tenure, WGN America debuted its first original series, Salem, which premiered to record ratings for the network. That was followed by the critically acclaimed drama Manhattan,  which garnered the network’s first-ever Emmy Award. In 2016, WGN launched both Underground and Outsiders, which consistently ranked among the top 20 cable dramas on television.