Apple TV+ never wanted “Friends.”
At least that’s what Chief Executive Tim Cook conveyed to shareholders Wednesday after one investor asked why the iPhone giant didn’t buy the streaming rights to popular TV series “Friends” and its reunion special.
“We love ‘Friends’ but it’s not what Apple TV+ is about,” Cook said at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Cupertino. “Apple TV+ is about original programming. It doesn’t feel right for Apple to just go out and take a rerun.”
Popular older TV shows have become increasingly valuable to streamers looking for content to draw viewers.
NBCUniversal paid $500 million to bring “The Office” to its platform, Peacock, which launches in April; and WarnerMedia paid $425 million to show “Friends” on its streaming service, HBO Max.
The series previously ran on Netflix where it had a cult following. Netflix had extended its licensing agreement for “Friends” in an unusual one-year deal — reportedly for about $80 million — to keep the show in its catalog until 2020.
“It wouldn’t feel like Apple at all in doing that,” Cook said regarding “Friends.” “It lacks the innovation and creativity of designing something ourselves. We’re going to be focused on original programming.”
Apple has not released subscriber numbers for Apple TV+, but Cook said the service is “off to a rousing start.”
Apple charges $4.99 a month for Apple TV+ and gives one year of the service for free for people who buy new Apple devices.