Apple is turning “Carpool Karaoke” into a standalone series for Apple Music

Image: CBS
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Apple has bought the rights to distribute a TV series based on James Corden’s popular “Carpool Karaoke” sketch, adding to the stable of video content available through the Apple Music streaming service.

“Carpool Karaoke,” a segment on Corden’s Late Late Show on CBS, became a bona fide viral hit, prompting its producers to shop it around as a standalone television show. Each segment involves Corden riding around in a car with a celebrity as they sing songs and engage in witty repartee.

The most recent episode, featuring US first lady Michelle Obama, accumulated more than 32 million views in less than a week. In total, the series has been viewed more than 800 million times on YouTube.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Apple has ordered 16 weekly episodes of “Carpool Karaoke” and will make them available exclusively to Apple Music’s 15 million subscribers—though Variety reported that CBS maintains the option of licensing the show to a traditional TV network later on. Corden will most likely not host the project being developed for Apple Music, but will continue making the skit for his CBS late night show, the Hollywood Reporter notes. The series for Apple will be produced by CBS Television Studios and Fulwell 73, Late Late Show executive producer Ben Winston’s production company.

Apple is increasingly showing a readiness to produce or finance original video content that can compliment the $10-a-month Apple Music service. The company is already making an original series starring hip-hop legend Dr. Dre, as well as a reality show about the ultimate Apple subject: apps. By acquiring “Carpool Karaoke” and producing its own content, Apple hopes to differentiate its streaming music service from competitors like Spotify.

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter earlier this month, Apple content boss Eddy Cue said the company is “not in the business of trying to create TV shows” but wants to use video content as a way to enhance and promote its existing platforms. ”We are only going into the content business [with projects] that we think are really tied to our products,” Cue said. “Right now, that’s Apple Music.”