In 2016, Apple hired the former Time Warner Cable executive to handle cloud-based subscription services. At the time, the Wall Street Journal speculated that in addition to increasing Apple’s investment in Apple Music, Apple Books and iCloud, Stern’s duties would include helping the tech giant tap into the television streaming service industry, which had been on the table for years.
Stern’s executive vice president-level tenure at a large cable company, where he led product and strategy, made him a perfect candidate to, according to Digiday, bridge a contentious divide that had erupted between various entertainment companies and Apple due to the Cupertino giant’s alleged hard-nosed negotiation tactics.
Cut to November 2019, when Apple launched Apple TV Plus. The subscription platform, which was originally intended for original content only, has become a formidable player in the streaming wars. Apple TV Plus currently offers 16 original TV series and movies, including Emmy Award-winner “The Morning Show,” “Ted Lasso” and “Greyhound.” (Last spring Apple announced that it would acquire older movies and shows for TV Plus to build a larger catalog of content in an attempt to compete with the massive libraries available on competitive platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Disney Plus.)
While Apple hasn’t released TV Plus subscriber numbers in its first year, the company’s broader services unit — which houses not only the SVOD platform and the app it runs on, but also things like iCloud and Apple Music — generated $13.2 billion in revenue in the third quarter, up 16%.
Stern was also behind the 2019 launch of Apple TV Channels, which offers both premium networks like Showtime and Starz, as well as streaming services such as CBS All Access, in a single app and billing system, similar to Amazon Prime Video Channels. Stern said last year that Apple TV Channels is a way to provide subscribers “only the channels you want, on-demand, ad-free, for the entire family, and all of it inside the new Apple TV app.”
Also in 2019, Stern helped launch Apple News Plus, which gives paying subscribers access to more than 300 magazines, select newspapers and premium digital news services.
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