As more and more major players wade into the streaming wars, companies are likely looking for ways to diversify their offerings either through bundles or acquisitions. According to two reports, both Apple and Netflix may be looking to tap MGM’s catalogue to beef up their respective streaming services.
Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple had held meetings with MGM about a possible acquisition of the studio’s assets. This week, CNBC reported that both Apple and Netflix were among multiple companies that held “preliminary” discussions with MGM about such a deal, citing two sources familiar with the matter. While CNBC noted that such a deal would be somewhat uncharacteristic of both companies, it also pointed to the fact that both TV+ and Netflix are looking to ramp up their content offerings in order to compete against competitors with mega-merger catalogues.
In December, the Journal reported that Apple held discussions with MGM as the studio was looking for distribution partners for its premium content product Epix. While the paper reported at the time that Apple didn’t have interest in the Epix offering, top Apple executive Eddy Cue reportedly discussed possibly acquiring MGM in a deal that could be worth up to $US10 ($15) billion.
Representatives for Netflix, Apple, and MGM did not immediately return Gizmodo’s requests for comment about the reported talks.
MGM’s catalogue includes the James Bond franchise as well as popular series like The Handmaid’s Tale, the A&E series Live PD, and VH1’s Love and Hip Hop, in addition to its decades of film titles. Both Apple and Netflix may have different motives for snapping up a legacy studio, but that either is looking at such an acquisition isn’t especially surprising.
Apple launched its TV+ service late last year with an extremely modest content offering. The idea, as executives noted prior to its launch, was to focus on producing a smaller number of series of a much higher calibre than, say, Netflix—which opted to churn out as much content as possible when producing its own originals. But that meant that Apple set its own bar exceptionally high, and not all of its shows hit that mark. You can’t be everything to everyone at once, which Apple seems to be figuring out the hard way.
Netflix, meanwhile, is now losing customers as the streaming space becomes ever more crowded with services that not only offer their subscribers premium content, but customisable packages and bundles.
Disney+, for example, may be a family-first service, but it offers a bundle with Hulu and ESPN+ in the U.S. for $US13 ($19) per month. HBO is launching Max in the country in a matter of months, and more and more services are launching with both on-demand and live content, giving users the choice to search for content or channel surf in much the same way they did with traditional TV. Citing sources, CNBC reported that Netflix is shooting for 95 original movies in a year’s time, and the acquisition of a legacy studio could be one way to help the company reach that goal.
Much like NBC’s deal with Lionsgate, though, it’s hard to imagine that MGM’s more recent catalogue is going to be a major selling point to subscribers. But as choosing a streaming service increasingly becomes a matter of who’s got the most—but also quality—titles under their umbrella, buying a legacy studio certainly can’t hurt.