Cook says Apple TV+ is focused on original programming, not 'reruns' like the 'Friends' reunion

Key Points
  • Apple won't show reruns like some of the service's competitors, including AT&T's upcoming service HBO Max, CEO Tim Cook said during Apple's shareholder meeting on Wednesday.
  • Apple will instead focus on original content.
  • Apple completed 14 acquisitions in 2019, Cook said.
Apple CEO Tim Cook greets customers at the grand reopening of Apple's flagship Apple Fifth Avenue retail store on September 20, 2019 in New York City.
Taylor Hill | Getty Images

Apple CEO Tim Cook said Wednesday during Apple's annual shareholder meeting that the Apple TV+ streaming service will offer only original programming. It won't launch reruns like some of the service's competitors, including AT&T's upcoming service HBO Max.

Apple TV+ launched late last year, with a reported $6 billion budget that's being spent on original characters and new shows.

Earlier this week, AT&T's HBO announced that it will air a "Friends" reunion show on HBO Max. One shareholder at the annual general meeting in Cupertino asked why that wasn't an Apple TV+ show.

"We love 'Friends.' Who doesn't love 'Friends'? It's not what Apple TV+ is about, it's about original programming," Cook said. "It doesn't feel right for Apple to go out and take a rerun. It doesn't feel like Apple."

"We're going to be focused on original programming," Cook said.

Cook said on Wednesday that Apple TV+ is off to a "rousing start" in terms of subscribers, but he did not disclose the number of subscribers.

Apple is offering a free year of Apple TV+ with purchase of an Apple device, which will help build subscribers quickly. "It's crazy we did this," Cook said.

Cook also talked during the shareholder meeting about acquisitions made in 2019.

Acquisitions and health ambitions

Cook said Apple bought 14 companies in 2019. The Federal Trade Commission has asked Apple for details about its acquisitions since 2010, especially smaller companies, the FTC said earlier this month. Cook said that Apple buys companies for "great talent and great technology."

In a Q-and-A session, Cook talked a little bit about Apple's health ambitions. He said that while Apple is continuing work on providing health records on iPhones, it was unlikely to compete with an enterprise provider like Cerner.

"My iPhone has my records from Apple and Stanford on it, and it's so incredible to go back and look at every lab test you've ever had. That's our objective," Cook said.

He declined to answer a question about a project to create a continuous glucose monitor, which CNBC reported on in April, and whether it would allow people with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar levels.

"I don't want to talk specifically about the continuous glucose monitors, because that gets into product road maps and so forth," Cook said.

Shareholders approve three Apple proposals

Apple's three proposals were approved by shareholders, and all three shareholder-submitted proposals were rejected.

At Apple's recommendation, shareholders rejected a proposal that would encourage Apple to detail how it responds to government demands related to free expression. The proposal was brought by SumOfUs, a consumer advocacy group, after Apple faced criticism that it deferred to Beijing when removing a controversial app during the Hong Kong protests. It received 40.6% of shareholder votes, versus 59.4% against, according to a preliminary tally.

Shareholders also rejected a proposal asking the board of directors to take the environment into consideration when setting goals for executive pay. 12.1% of shareholders voted in favor of that proposal. A proposal that would enable an additional director nominated by shareholders was also struck down with only 31.1% of shareholders voting for approval. Apple said in an SEC filing that it has faced similar proposals for the last six years.

In past years, Apple has seemed to respond to proposals even if they didn't pass. In 2018, for example, Apple shareholders voted against a proposal to push the company to address child device addiction. Later that year, Apple released a new feature called Screen Time, which enables parents to set usage limits on iPhones and iPads.

Directors James Bell, Tim Cook, Al Gore, Andrea Jung, Art Levinson, Ron Sugar and Sue Wagner were reelected, and Apple's accounting firm, Ernst and Young, was approved. Shareholders also approved executive pay in a nonbinding vote.

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