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Apple is bringing a billion-dollar checkbook to Hollywood, and wants to buy 10 TV shows

Game on.

Helen Sloan | HBO

Apple is officially open for business in Hollywood.

The company is telling content makers it wants to spend $1 billion on its own stuff over the next year. That's music to studios' ears, and a tune they have been expecting for some time — especially after Apple hired two top Sony TV executives in June.

We still don't know what Apple wants to do with that content: The Wall Street Journal says Apple wants to make up to 10 "Game of Thrones" or "House of Cards"-scale shows, but that's not enough to launch a full-scale subscription service.

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For context: HBO spent about $2 billion on content last year, and Netflix is spending $6 billion. While Apple is now formally competing with those guys for content, it certainly doesn't want to beat them. It wants them streaming their shows on Apple devices, and selling their services via Apple's iTunes store, where Apple can take a cut of the monthly fee.

But Apple's all-but-official announcement is a sign that it's done with its first, halting effort to make its own programming, which it used to augment its Apple Music service. You don't hire those guys, and spend that kind of money, as a marketing exercise.

Reminder: The list of guys writing checks in Hollywood now includes Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook and Google; Verizon and AT&T are coming, too. You should stop reading this, and start writing your spec script.

By Peter Kafka, Recode.net.

CNBC's parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Recode's parent Vox, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.