Apple Inc said on Friday it has hired the co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television, Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, to lead the iPhone maker's foray into television-style programing. The duo, responsible for hit shows such as "Breaking Bad," "Better Call Saul," "The Crown" and "The Blacklist," have been Sony Pictures presidents since 2005.
"Jamie and Zack are two of the most talented TV executives in the world and have been instrumental in making this the golden age of television," said Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. Van Amburg and Erlicht’s exit was announced on Thursday in a memo to staff from Sony Pictures Entertainment Chief Executive Tony Vinciquerra. Entertainment magazine Variety said their contracts were set to expire in August.
The moves follow the departures of Sony Pictures Television Chairman Steve Mosko last year, and Sony Entertainment Chief Executive Michael Lynton in January. Hollywood has been awaiting the entry of deep-pocketed Apple, which produces original programing and purchase content from others, and distributes shows on its popular Apple TV device. But Apple faces an increasingly crowded content market.
Social media giant Facebook Inc has signed deals with millennial-focused news and entertainment creators, including Vox and BuzzFeed, to make shows for its upcoming video service, while Amazon and Netflix have sizable digital entertainment businesses. Apple began its move into the field last week, with a reality program called "Planet of the Apps," an unscripted show about developers trying to interest celebrity mentors with a 60-second pitch on an escalator.
The company's future programing plans include an adaptation of comedian James Corden's "Carpool Karaoke" segment from his CBS show that will begin airing in August, a documentary about Sean Combs in June, and another about Clive Davis in a few months. Apple shares fell slightly in midday trading on Friday, shedding 0.5 percent to $143.50 per share.