Matt Cherniss, former president at WGN America, is joining Apple as the company continues to ramp up its push into original programming.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Cherniss will take on the role of chief creative/head of U.S. programming and will report directly to Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, two former Sony Pictures Television executives Apple hired earlier this summer.
As the report points out, Cherniss has been working with Erlicht and Van Amburg for some time. WGN got two of its best-received series, “Underground” and “Outsiders,” from Sony.
Cherniss’s new gig comes about two months after his exit from WGN America. Cherniss stepped down at the end of June and Gavin Harvey, a veteran of networks including E! and FX, stepped in as interim president of WGN America.
Under Cherniss, WGN America accelerated its original programming slate and launched well-received dramas including “Salem” and “Manhattan.” Tribune said that under Cherniss, WGN America’s advertisers more than doubled and distribution increased by nearly 10 million homes.
The new hire for Apple comes amid reports that the company has set a whopping $1 billion budget for original programming, an amount that moves it closer to the budgets of rivals including Amazon, HBO and Netflix.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple could use the budget to acquire and produce as many as 10 TV series. The content could be housed on Apple’s existing music streaming platform or a new video-focused service, according to the report.