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Apple hires top UK TV executive to help boost video content

  • Ms Hunt was most recently chief creative officer at Channel 4, during a time when it axed Big Brother, developed Gogglebox and Black Mirror, poached the Great British Bake Off from the BBC, and twice won Channel of the Year at the Edinburgh International Television Festival.
  • When she starts at Apple in January, Ms Hunt will play a key role in its international creative development team as it looks to deploy a budget of more than $1bn for original series over the next year.
  • The hire comes on the heels of Apple landing its first big-budget TV show in the US, Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories.
Jay Hunt
Rex Features | AP Images
Jay Hunt

Apple has scored a coup in Silicon Valley’s increasingly global search for television industry talent, recruiting the highly regarded UK-based broadcasting executive Jay Hunt.

The move marks Apple’s first high-profile hire in Europe with such an extensive programming background, as the iPhone maker looks to extend its video offering.

Ms Hunt was most recently chief creative officer at Channel 4, during a time when it axed Big Brother, developed Gogglebox and Black Mirror, poached the Great British Bake Off from the BBC, and twice won Channel of the Year at the Edinburgh International Television Festival.

Once seen as a frontrunner to become Channel 4’s next chief executive, she spent almost seven years at the British broadcaster, before leaving in September.

Previously, the Australian had served as controller of BBC One, where she was responsible for commissioning hits including Luther and Sherlock. She has also been director of programmes at the UK’s Channel 5.

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When she starts at Apple in January, Ms Hunt will play a key role in its international creative development team as it looks to deploy a budget of more than $1bn for original series over the next year.

That team will report to Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, its Los Angeles-based chief content officers, both of whom Apple lured from Sony Pictures Television in June to begin its latest push into television.

Apple on Wednesday confirmed Ms Hunt’s appointment, but declined to comment further.

The hire comes on the heels of Apple landing its first big-budget TV show in the US, Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories. Amblin Entertainment’s 1980s science-fiction fantasy show will be revived, people familiar with the matter said earlier this month, with a total budget running into tens of millions of dollars.

Although showrunners are still unclear on how their content will be distributed, Apple is making inroads in Hollywood thanks to the pedigree and connections of Mr Erlicht and Mr Amburg, who were responsible for hit shows including The Crown and Breaking Bad while at Sony.

As Apple starts to build momentum in original content, its rival Amazon has suffered a series of key staff losses, after its studios chief Roy Price resigned last week amid allegations of sexual harassment.

The entry of tech groups such as Apple, Amazon, YouTube and Facebook into original content is reverberating through Hollywood.

On Tuesday, Hulu — the US streaming service jointly owned by Fox, Walt Disney and Comcast — appointed a new chief executive, Randy Freer, after its previous boss Mike Hopkins left to run Sony Pictures TV.

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said last week as it released earnings that securing original content had “become a much more competitive marketplace” as Silicon Valley piled into Hollywood, although he dismissed some as being “heavy handed” in their approach.