'No religion, smoking, doing drugs' on Apple TV+ — here's why, and what's coming next to the tech giant's streamer

  • Apple TV+ is buying new shows and movies, even as Hollywood's peak TV spending binge winds down.

  • Leaked talent agency documents and industry insiders reveal what new shows Apple wants.

  • On the wish list: "female-forward" films, reality TV with "premium sheen," and a version of "A Quiet Place."

Apple TV+ is a small but influential player in the streaming wars. It captures an estimated 11% of the ad-free streaming market, in third place after Netflix and Disney+, and spent an estimated $7 billion on content this year, per MoffettNathanson, half of Netflix's outlay.

But it's known for its willingness to spend on talent and give film and TV auteurs creative freedom. Martin Scorcese's "Killers of the Flower Moon," currently in theaters before streaming exclusively on Apple TV+, had a budget reportedly ranging from $200 million to $250 million, while Reese Witherspoon-starring "The Morning Show" reportedly cost Apple $150 million per season.

And Apple has signaled it wants to grow its streaming content slate at a time when other media companies are contracting. It's raising its prices, to $9.99 a month from $6.99, to support additional content and features.

Interviews with agents and production company execs who have been briefed by Apple insiders, along with two leaked agency documents that detail multiple streamers' content wish lists, paint a picture of what kinds of shows and movies the tech giant wants as it beefs up its slate. Apple hasn't responded to requests for comment. (For what Netflix is looking for in new projects, click here.)

Apple has built its identity around elevated but popular programming featuring big stars and themes that are hopeful, avoiding controversial topics that risk undermining its giant retail business at home and abroad — a mandate that's produced shows like Jason Sudeikis hit "Ted Lasso" and "Platonic" starring Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen.

By all accounts, it's sticking with that mission as Hollywood rebounds after a months-long writers' strike and prepares for the resolution of the ongoing actors' strike.

"It definitely wants commercial fare," as one agent put it to Insider. "No religion, characters smoking, doing drugs." Jon Stewart's talk show "The Problem" is parting ways with Apple after disagreements over potential show topics including China and artificial intelligence, The New York Times reported.

Apple is "always looking" for films that "highlight humanity," according to one of the agency documents. Projects can be across genres but should be hopeful and have a clear "why now." "Female-forward" and "elevated YA" are on the wish list for films. Other needs are comedy and sci-fi — think "Foundation," Apple TV+'s sci-fi drama based on Isaac Asimov's novels, which just completed its second season.

And while Apple "won't do down the middle bloody horror," it would "love" a version of the John Krasinski-directed sci-fi horror film "A Quiet Place," per the document.

When it comes to series, Apple has a growing appetite for unscripted, according to the second agency doc. It's looking for projects that can be completed quickly, which could include a competition show — as long as it has the "Apple premium sheen" and is "well cast."

Having become an ambitious player in live sports, with rights to Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball, Apple is also looking for complementary unscripted sports programming that can be turned around quickly. Access to subjects is valued, but according to the document, not every project has to have "incredible unprecedented access" like Apple's docuseries "The Dynasty," about the New England Patriots, or its documentary feature "Stephen Curry: Underrated." The streamer is also looking to "crack the code on sports anthology" with a project like Netflix's "Untold" docuseries that can appeal to sports and non-sports fans alike.

As a side hustle of a massive retail business, Apple TV+ can fly under the radar, insulated from economic pressures that have roiled the entertainment business. According to one of the agency docs, it will continue to take nine-figure swings on tentpole films like "Killers of the Flower Moon" and Ridley Scott's "Napoleon," both positioned as big awards contenders this year. (Apple TV+ was the first streamer to win the best picture Oscar, in 2022, for "CODA," which it acquired at the Sundance Film Festival).

But according to the agent, even Apple is more cost-sensitive than it used to be: "They're still willing to pay for the right star, but spending $15 to $18 million per episode isn't going to happen."

Read the original article on Business Insider