CNN’s Dylan Byers posed the multibillion-dollar question in discussion with Apple SVP Eddy Cue at SXSW, noting that such a giant acquisition might be within reach for the technology giant whose market cap is flirting with $1 trillion.
“The good news is both Netflix and Disney are great partners of ours and have been with us from the beginning,” said Cue, once the laughter died down. “Generally, in the history of Apple, we haven’t made huge acquisitions.”
As Netflix flashes major cash to secure top talent like TV producer Ryan Murphy or Amazon paying $250 million for the rights to The Lord of the Rings, Cue said Apple is pursuing great storytelling, whether from established industry players or newcomers.
“We’re all in, we’re completely all in,” said Cue. “There’s a difference, though: We’re not after quantity, we’re after quality.”
Indeed, evens Cue spoke to a packed conference room in Austin, Apple announced an animated musical comedy Central Park, from the creator of Bob’s Burgers, a deal that comes on the heels of earlier wins with such prominent Hollywood figures as Kristen Wiig and Steven Spielberg.
Pressed on the question of whether Apple needs a major tentpole project to compete with its digital rivals, Cue said the issue isn’t the size of the production budget.
“The issue is finding the right ones,” Cue said. “We don’t like throwing a hundred things up against the wall and figuring out what’s good or not.”
After two years of searching, Cue said Apple was able to recruit two television executives — Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg — to guide the company’s video programming strategy. The team now has expanded to 40 people in the U.S. and internationally.
“We’re building what I think is an incredibly talented, capable team capable of quality,” said Cue.
Cue pooh-poohed Jeffrey Katzenberg’s New TV venture, which seeks to deliver shortform content purpose-built for mobile devices.
“I don’t think you can make Game of Thrones in two to eight minutes,” Cue said.
The Apple executive — a self-professed “sports nut” — reserved his enthusiasm for a modest technological innovation: sports alerts within Apple’s TV app, which sends reminders about upcoming games or a digital alert to tune in to a close contest.
“If I want to watch Duke, I want an alert when a game is on,” Cue said. “I also care about the ACC Conference. If there’s a close game, why don’t I get an alert on my device to watch the last two or three minutes?”