Almost two months in, Apple seems to be shaking some of the haters off its TV+ streaming service and its content. To be fair, some of the early shows did get off to rough, or at least boring and maybe confusing, starts. However, For All Mankind was good right from the jump and after a meandering opening two episodes, The Morning Show ended up really turning the tables on the mediocre to bad opening opiniond with a strong close and very solid reviews from watchers.
Now those opening shows have been joined by Servant, which has garnered strong reviews from the start with many more original shows to come. As we know, Apple also has also has more originals to come and continues to bid for more work and sign on more talent. That said, they are still fielding a very small lineup in comparison to their competitors.
Along that line, according to the Wall Street Journal, Apple is rumored to be moving in some new directions in search of additional content. First off, you have rumors that they are pursuing a deal with MGM. They certainly would bring along an extensive back catalog of movies, which includes the James Bond franchise. While it certainly isn’t Disney, with its Marvel, Star Wars, and massive catalog of classics, it is a start for Apple that begins to fill their service’s biggest void.
The other rumor is more interesting, in my opinion. The WSJ also reports that Apple has had talks with the PAC-12 Conference about their content. While still preliminary, live and recorded sports would represent another new area for Apple. While this certainly wouldn’t match Disney’s ESPN, it would give them an advantage over Netflix and Amazon Prime when it comes to a very popular type of streaming content.
The other thing that makes this interesting is the current position of the Pac-12 in college athletics. While the SEC, Big 10 and ACC have all enjoyed both financial and ratings success with their independent networks, the Pac-12’s has struggled to gain traction in comparison. Their network isn’t as widely available and isn’t generating as much revenue. The lack of availability nationwide is really hurting the visibility of their teams.
Larry Scott, the commissioner of the Pac-12, actually went on record recently about the disappointment over none of their teams making the 4 team College Football Playoffs for the third year in a row. While he isn’t openly advocating for the expansion of the playoffs, I’m certain he’s aware of the places where his conference falls short and knows he has to do something about it. While teaming up with Apple certainly isn’t a magic wand to cure all the Pac-12 Network’s ills, it is an out-of-the box way to begin opening their teams up to new viewers and greater exposure.
MGM’s catalog is ultimately filler, but filler that Apple TV+ could certainly use. A potential Pac-12 partnership is more interesting. These are two large organizations getting new initiatives off the ground that could mutually benefit each other. The Pac-12 needs to push their network forward and that effort is currently stalled. Apple needs new content to make Apple TV+ appealing enough that people will want to actually pay for it when all the trials are done. These needs line up very, very well.
The fit is a natural one. Apple is based on the West Coast, with a headquarters near two PAC-12 institutions and major operations in LA, San Francisco and Seattle near three others. Numerous Pac-12 alums work throughout Apple’s organization. Likewise, Apple is a big part of the West Coast culture that the Pac-12 is centered around. A marriage between them seems like a win-win.
Whatever comes of these two potential relationships, these rumored deals do show that Apple isn’t sitting back after getting Apple TV+ off the ground. They are continuing to pump money into content and deals, and based on the Pac-12 report, it looks like they are willing to think outside the box to bring in viewers and keep them.