What it is: Apple won the bidding war for the rights to Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” novels for a TV series.
Apple needs exclusive content for Apple TV to make it worth people buying. Apple’s first attempts at exclusive content revolved around lame shows like “Planet of the Apps” that nobody cared about. That’s why Apple has been busy bidding for new shows. One of their earliest bids include a reboot of the “Amazing Stories” anthology series that originally aired in the 80’s, along with an unnamed morning news drama show starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.
However, Apple needs must-see shows like “Game of Thrones,” but that means supporting several shows, knowing that only a few will actually succeed. That’s why Apple has spent money to bid on proven show concepts like Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” trilogy that will be turned into a TV series.
Science fiction fans know and love this “Foundation” trilogy that defined an early era of science fiction, which influenced future stories like “Star Wars.” By owning the rights to Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” novels for airing as a TV series, Apple has gained their first original show that has a built-in audience that will want to watch it. Whether the TV series is any good is irrelevant at this point. Just the name of Isaac Asimov and the “Foundation” trilogy will be enough to attract an audience. Then the show’s quality will have to keep people watching.
Apple needs to take a two-pronged approach to exclusive content. First, they need to keep gambling on unknown shows that have the potential of becoming hits like “Orange is the New Black”. Second, they need to keep pursuing stories based on proven content like “Game of Thrones” or “The Walking Dead,” which was based on a graphic novel. Constantly pursuing original content and hoping it will turn into a hit show is risky, so the safest bet is to keep paying for TV shows based on proven content. That means creating TV shows based on novels, movies (like “Westworld”), comic books, or old TV shows. That also means paying for those rights.
Apple can’t afford to offer lame content like “Planet of the Apps” so they have no choice but to start spending billions gambling on new TV shows every year. Some will succeed but most will fail, and that’s the way original TV programming works. Apple can’t predict what will work so they can only gamble like everyone else trying to find the magic show that will skyrocket to popularity overnight. Nobody knows this formula other than to keep creating new content and hoping for the best.
Jumping into original content is the only way Apple can make Apple TV unique. The only question is how long will it take until Apple finally has a “Game of Thrones”-like hit on their hands?