Among Apple’s upcoming offerings is a morning-show drama starring Witherspoon, Aniston, and Steve Carell; an epic futuristic drama starring Jason Momoa; a remake of Spielberg’s sci-fi anthology series Amazing Stories; and projects by J.J. Abrams, Kumail Nanjiani, Brie Larson, Damien Chazelle, M. Night Shyamalan and, yes, Oprah.

That’s already more star power than HBO, or any other network, can boast. Apple doesn’t want its programming to be the “something for everybody,” highly personalized plethora of programming that constitutes Netflix. It’s hoping to grow, as HBO did, by going smaller in its breadth of shows but treating each one as if it could be the next Game of Thrones.

“Introducing a new home for the world’s most creative storytellers,” the sizzle reel read in bold letters. Every second of the Apple TV+ presentation, from its parade of stars down to its high-end aesthetic, made one thing abundantly clear: This isn’t normal TV. This is something better.

That may sound familiar—and that’s no coincidence. But replicating HBO as the go-to place for quality content is easier said than done, especially since it appears the tech company thinks it can skip a few of the steps HBO had to take on the way to earning its premium TV reputation.

When HBO first started making original shows, it didn’t have the luxury of every A-list star in existence backing it. Its first hourlong drama, Oz, featured an ensemble cast of character actors. When The Sopranos debuted in 1999, James Gandolfini was not a superstar. Hardly anyone actually watched The Wire—today considered one of the great series of all time—when it originally aired on HBO.

It took HBO more than a decade of building up goodwill through inventive, risky shows like Six Feet Under, Deadwood, and The Leftovers before the channel earned the right to just throw Meryl Streep on your TV screens and call it a day. Even Game of Thrones, now the biggest show on the planet, had much more humble beginnings. When it premiered, the cast was not well-known, and the show very easily could have served only a niche fantasy audience (or, worse, it could have massively flopped).

Apple wants to skip the growing pains and cut right to the Big Little Lies of it all, hiring as many big names as it can to drive subscriptions and make money outside of its core iPhone business. It’s hard to blame the company—it certainly has enough money and clout to do just that.

And its timing is fortuitous. There may just be an opening in the premium TV game as HBO’s new corporate owners, AT&T, try to make HBO less like the HBO of old and more like the Netflix of now. If HBO isn’t going to be HBO anymore, maybe Apple will be.

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