Apple has 3 execs looking to make big TV deals -- and it sounds like a total mess

Eddy CueKevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesApple CEO Tim Cook and SVP Eddy Cue

Apple has several executives leading negotiations with Hollywood companies for the rights to TV shows and movies, and potentially an big purchase of a content company, the New York Post reports.

Apple, specifically content head Eddy Cue, has met with Paramount, and Sony’s TV and film departments, according to the report. Previously, the Financial Times reported that Apple had entered into talks with Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment.

These talks could’ve taken place last month, when Apple CEO Tim Cook and Cue were in LA to attend both the Oscars and the Grammys.

But most interestingly, the Post’s sources say Apple hasn’t figured out who’s leading the negotiations: sometimes it’s Cue, sometimes it’s their longtime lieutenant Robert Kondrk, and sometimes it’s Jimmy Iovine, founder of Beats and music industry heavyweight. He doesn’t have a title at Apple — it’s just “Jimmy.”

The Post’s Claire Atkinson writes:

As Apple executives are busying looking to do business in Hollywood, entertainment industry insiders are scratching their heads over who, exactly, is driving the effort.

“Robert Kondrk, Eddy Cue, Jimmy Iovine, everyone is trying to be the person,” one insider told The Post. “They each want to be the guy, and they’re telling people, don’t deal with the other one.”

That sounds messy, and it’s not the first time we’ve heard about this type of confusion in Apple.

Last year, in an article about Apple Music’s redesign and music content negotiations, Bloomberg reported:

While Iovine’s connections make him valuable, they’re also a source of friction inside Apple. There were times when they were in the middle of negotiations with an artist’s managers and labels while, unbeknownst to them, Iovine was carrying out his own separate discussions, according to people familiar with the matter.

Apple has long wanted to release a standout TV product, most likely along with a TV subscription service, but it has been stymied in negotiations with content producers before.

But Apple has made smaller bets on TV shows, including “Planet of the Apps” and “Carpool Karaoke,” which will launch on Apple Music, Apple’s music subscription service.

Currently, Apple TV, an internet-connected streaming box that plugs into TVs through an HDMI port, is seeing year-over-year declines in sales.

During Apple’s most recent earnings call, Cook gave some colour on the company’s original content ambitions:

“In terms of original content, we have put our toe in the water doing some original content for Apple Music, and that will be rolling out through the year. We are learning from that, and we’ll go from there. The way that we participate in the changes that are going on in the media industry — that I fully expect to accelerate from the cable bundle beginning to break down — is:

1. We started the new Apple TV a year ago, we’re pleased on how that platform has come along. We have more things planned for it, but it’s come a long way in a year, and it gives us a clear platform to build off of.

2. Embedded in the 150 million paid subscriptions that I mentioned in my opening comments, there’s a number of third-party services that are a part of that, where we participate economically in some of that by offering our platform selling and distributing.

3. With our toe in the water we are learning a lot about the original content business, and thinking about ways that we could play in that.”

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