Apple has committed to spending more than $6bn on original shows and movies for its new video streaming service that it hopes will challenge the likes of Netflix, Disney and AT&T-owned HBO.
The company’s new TV+ service will go live within the next two months, according to people briefed on its plans, in an attempt to pre-empt the launch of Disney Plus, which is scheduled to debut in the US in November. Apple has not yet revealed pricing or other key details for its TV+ subscription service, but said new content would be added every month after the service launches in more than 100 countries.
The iPhone maker has been preparing its foray into media for years, after hiring Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, two Sony Pictures Television executives, to lead the charge in 2017.
It has also spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a star-studded series featuring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell called The Morning Show, surpassing Game of Thrones’ reported $15m price tag per episode in its final season. (FT)
In the news
Trump ups ante against the Fed
President Donald Trump has increased pressure on the US central bank to raise interest rates and again criticised the central bank’s chairman Jay Powell for his “horrendous lack of vision.” The president said in a pair of tweets on Monday that the Federal Reserve should cut its benchmark interest rate by at least a full percentage point as the White House was reportedly discussing a cut to payroll taxes in an effort to stimulate the US economy. Meanwhile, the two-decade consensus that has existed on Capitol Hill in favour of a strong dollar is crumbling. (FT, WSJ, WaPo)
Pimco pares bond bets
Pimco, the US investment powerhouse, has pared its positions in government debt on fears that a breakthrough in US-China trade talks could trigger a violent sell-off. Several big funds controlled by the group, including the $128bn Pimco Income Fund, have been lightening up on their positions in the UK, European and — to a lesser extent — the US government bond markets. “We’re a lot more defensive,” says Pimco’s chief investment officer Dan Ivascyn. (FT)
EU rejects Boris Johnson’s Brexit offer
The EU has firmly rejected a demand from Boris Johnson to remove the Irish backstop from any Brexit divorce deal. The UK prime minister sent a letter to Donald Tusk laying out why he wanted to remove the “undemocratic” backstop. But in a terse response the president of the European Council rebuffed Mr Johnson’s suggestion that the UK and EU could come up with “unilateral” measures to maintain the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that ended decades of violence in Northern Ireland. (FT)
Sotheby’s sale attracts investor criticism
With a shareholder vote looming in just over two weeks, UK-based fund manager RWC Partners, one of Sotheby’s largest shareholders, has raised several concerns about the auction house’s $3.7bn sale to billionaire telecoms executive Patrick Drahi, including the price. (FT)
Russia condemns US for missile test
Just two weeks after the US withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned development of missiles with a range of 500-5,500km, the US defence department said it tested a cruise missile that “accurately impacted its target after more than 500km of flight,” drawing ire from Russia. “This is regrettable. The United States has obviously taken a course towards escalating military tensions,” said Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister. (FT)
FTC warns on Facebook break-up
The Federal Trade Commission chairman on Monday warned that Facebook’s effort to integrate Instagram and WhatsApp could stymie any attempt by the agency to break up the social media giant. US states are preparing their own joint antitrust probe into Big Tech companies as soon as next month. (FT, WSJ)
China’s disinformation campaign
Facebook and Twitter have removed accounts originating in mainland China that targeted Hong Kong protesters, the first time social media groups have linked propaganda operations to Beijing. The FT’s global China editor James Kynge says an estimated 1.7m-strong peaceful march on Sunday was an act of defiance. Meanwhile, a man working at the UK consulate in Hong Kong has been detained in mainland China. (FT)
Jeffrey Epstein signed his will two days before he died, according to court papers filed last week that listed his assets at $577m and named his brother as his only heir. The papers filed in court in the US Virgin Islands, and published on Monday, directed that Epstein’s assets be put into a trust. Were life a Hollywood movie, Jeffrey Epstein’s death would be the moral finale, writes Edward Luce. (FT, NYP)
Shopify eyes Amazon
Ottawa-based ecommerce company Shopify’s shares have quietly climbed more than 150 per cent in 2019, its market capitalisation of $40bn outpacing Twitter, Spotify and even eBay and positioning it to challenge Amazon. (FT)
The day ahead
An upbeat report on US retail sales last week soothed some fears about consumer spending. Today’s results from home improvement chain Home Depot and department store operator Kohl’s, as well as discount retailer TJX should provide more information on the strength of the consumer. (FT)
Italy no-confidence vote
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will address Italy’s upper house of parliament on the government crisis on Tuesday, when he faces a no-confidence vote triggered by interior minister Matteo Salvini. Italian assets were under pressure on global stock markets ahead of the expected vote. Here’s a guide to the political stand-off. (FT)
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What else we’re reading
Coal industry’s last gambit: carbon capture
Carbon capture technology, which claims that coal can be made cleaner by storing carbon emissions underground, is the centre of a $360bn campaign for the coal industry’s survival. But critics see a prohibitively expensive exercise in reputation laundering against ever-cheaper renewable rivals. (FT)
Junior lawyers pay frenzy miffs older partners
A turf war between US and UK firms has resulted in bumper pay rises for junior lawyers but left more experienced staff feeling “miffed”, as their own reward packages haven’t increased in line. Clients are far from impressed too. Our M&A newsletter Due Diligence has more. (FT)
A deadly fungus is threatening to wipe out the banana export business. Colombia has declared a “national emergency” after it confirmed the arrival of the Panama TR4 disease, while Ecuador, Costa Rica and Guatemala are on high alert. Latin America is the source of two-thirds of the global banana trade and home to the Cavendish banana, which accounts for 95 per cent of the world’s exports. (FT)
Is it time to shed online anonymity?
Anonymity was common in the 18th and much of the 19th centuries, often because the content of articles was controversial. But today, those who choose to comment online should take ownership of their opinions, Michael Skapinker writes. (FT)
Greenland’s rare earth resources
Donald Trump’s idea to buy Greenland may be fantasy, but the US has staked an interest in the island’s resources, in particular, its rare earth minerals, which could offer an alternative supply to China. (FT)
Scottish castle for sale
Seton Castle, a country house in East Lothian designed by famed architect Robert Adam, has hit the market. Here’s what £8m will buy on the site of an 800-year-old retreat where Mary Queen of Scots reportedly played golf. (Bloomberg)
Overcoming the ‘overqualified’ trap
You don’t have to be near retirement to battle a perception that you’re too accomplished — and therefore perhaps insufficiently motivated — for the job. Here’s what to do about it. (WSJ)
Summer of creativity
The FT Work & Careers team is trying various out-of-office activities to see whether they help creativity in the workplace. This week, Isabel Berwick writes of visiting Two Temple Place, a London riverside mansion built in the 1890s by William Waldorf Astor that is a work of art in itself. (FT)
Podcast of the day
Disrupting Big Ag
Investors poured $17bn into agricultural food and technology start-ups in 2018, fuelled by threats to the world’s food supply, including climate change and a growing global population. The Behind the Money podcast visited Indigo Ag, a start-up working with farmers to trial its microbial products for healthier crops.
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