Skepticism has clouded Apple’s foray into TV, but, maybe it knows what it’s doing. The company made its biggest original-programming splash to date Wednesday, giving the much-hyped morning-talk-show drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon a straight-to-series, two-season order. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Apple outbid several other networks for the series, including Showtime. The drama will be an “inside look at the lives of the people who help America wake up in the morning, exploring the unique challenges faced by the women (and men) who carry out this daily televised ritual.” In other words, it sounds like if The Newsroom was about a morning show instead of evening news.
It’s exciting to see Aniston back on the small screen and to see Witherspoon stick to TV after having so much success with the Emmy-nominated Big Little Lies. (Hopefully, her commitment to this upcoming series is confirmation that HBO isn’t moving forward with a rumored second season of BLL, which would be heresy). However, the biggest winner here might be Apple. As other companies are exploring original programming—from YouTube and Facebook to, no joke, LinkedIn—it’s worth considering how many new ventures will be able to stand out in the ever-crowded television landscape. To put it another way: If you’re already satisfied with some combination of streaming services (Hulu, Netflix), traditional cable networks (FX, AMC), and broadcast networks (NBC, ABC), why would you want to pay for something exclusive to Apple?
But Apple’s early arsenal—Aniston and Witherspoon’s new drama joins an anthology series from Bryan Fuller and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, plus Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps—is versatile and impressive. And for some people, an Aniston and Witherspoon–led series alone may make another monthly fee worth it. Apple isn’t going to turn into Netflix overnight, but with this kind of star power, it’s demanding our attention.