To say that Apple TV Plus’ first slate of programming debuted to less than stellar reviews would be an understatement. Now, a top TV executive in charge of Apple’s programming has left the company less than two weeks after the service’s debut.
Kim Rozenfeld is leaving his position as head of current scripted programming, documentary, and unscripted content, according to The Hollywood Reporter. There aren’t any additional details on Rozenfeld’s departure, but it is remarkable. Rozenfeld was one of the first people that Apple TV Plus chiefs Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht hired when they were building the team. Prior to Apple, he was a longstanding executive at Sony TV (where Van Amburg and Erlicht came from).
Also unclear is what Rozenfeld’s departure means for Apple’s originals slate. The company’s four heavily marketed shows, The Morning Show, See, Dickinson, and For All Mankind weren’t met with praise from critics. Some critics found See and For All Mankind average at best, but ultimately forgettable. Dickinson won some critics over with its carefreeness and queer storytelling. The Morning Show, Apple TV Plus’ most prized series, underwhelmed at best, but also soured many critics. James Poniewozik at the New York Times wrote:
It’s like something assembled in a cleanroom out of good-show parts from incompatible suppliers. Under the gleaming surface, as sleek and anodyne as an Apple Store, it is a kludge.
Parting ways with Rozenfeld might speak to Apple wanting to move in a different direction with their scripted series, although all four originals were renewed. Critical appeal isn’t everything, though. Most of the aforementioned shows landed much higher on Rotten Tomatoes’ site when it came to user ratings. The Morning Show, one of the worst critically rated shows of the bunch, has an audience score of 92 percent. See, a sci-fi series starring Jason Momoa that’s set in a post-apocalyptic future where everyone is blind, is the worst-reviewed show as far as critics are concerned, but has an audience approval score of 88 percent.
“Viewers aren’t critics,” analyst Eric Haggstrom at eMarketer told The Verge earlier this month. “People will watch these shows, regardless of what critics say. Whether they continue to watch them after a month depends on quality.”
If the negative reviews impacted subscriber sign up for Apple TV Plus, it could be a reason why Apple and Rozenfeld are going in different directions, but the reasoning is unclear. Rozenfeld also signed a first-look deal with Apple, which suggests an amicable split. What’s clear is that Apple is still trying to figure out its original content plan, and that might take longer than the company hoped.