Editors’ pick: Originally published Jan. 29.
Apple (AAPL) , which is struggling to line up networks and cable channels for its long-delayed "skinny bundle" offering of a lower-priced video service, is trying a new tack and talking with TV producers and Hollywood studios about investing in TV shows to offer exclusively to its iTunes customers.
The Cupertino-based tech giant began sounding out Hollywood's creative community late last year, but has yet to sign any agreements, according to two people with knowledge of the overtures. One plan is to have deals in place so Apple can announce exclusive content as part of a cable-like offering in September, when it is expected to unveil its iPhone 7, said one of the people.
An Apple spokesman had no comment.
Investing in original programming is a proven path for tech companies to help draw subscribers to their over-the-top services. Amazon (AMZN) produces award-winning shows such as Transparent and Mozart in The Jungle, and streams them exclusively for its Prime customers.
Netflix (NFLX) licenses its hit shows such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Narcos from Hollywood producers.
"Since the beginning of television, content differentiation has been the single most important element driving the business," said Blair Westlake, former chairman of Universal TV and a one-time top Microsoft executive. "Apple undoubtedly recognized that offering programming that is only available on iTunes is a 'must have,' just as it is for mainstream TV."