Tim Cook personally rejected a show based on Dr. Dre’s life that featured drugs, guns and an orgy, the Wall Street Journal reported in an in-depth story about Apple’s streaming strategy. The insight comes as Apple is pushing forward on its quest to compete with Netflix—only with less cursing, fewer (if any) sex scenes, and tamer subject matter.
But the restrictions aren’t totally arbitrary. As a consumer products company, Apple faces a riskier proposition in alienating viewers and customers than does Netflix or even subscription-fueled Amazon.
For example, the Journal reports that Apple toned down the humor on a show featuring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston as morning show hosts; stepped back from a Whitney Cummings show about the #MeToo era; and requested that M. Night Shyamalan remove crucifixes from characters’ homes on an upcoming psychological thriller.
While Apple has reportedly told Hollywood types that sex and violence were the only deal-breakers, the company intervened on Shyamalan’s show because of a reluctance to wade into religion and rejected the show about the #MeToo movement because of “concern about the sensitive topics.”
But the guidelines given to creators and agents—no violence or gratuitous nudity—seem in part influenced by Cook’s personal taste. He prefers family-friendly shows like Friday Night Lights and Madame Secretary, the Journal reports.
The restrictions have earned Apple the nickname “expensive NBC” among its own staff, the Journal reports. In other words, Apple’s streaming service is giving itself the same content restrictions as a broadcast network.
These restrictions have slowed down Apple’s debut as a streaming service, with a date once scheduled for the end of 2018 now pushed until March 2019 and likely to be delayed further. The Witherspoon-Aniston project has encountered particular delays because Apple replaced the show runner. Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht are the two top executives behind Apple’s streaming play, and both were behind Breaking Bad before coming to Apple.
Apple is reported to be launching its streaming video service in the first half of 2019.