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Magic Johnson says Apple TV+ took his docuseries from under NBC's nose

Apple Tv They Call Me Magic
Apple Tv They Call Me Magic (Image credit: Apple TV+)

What you need to know

  • They Call Me Magic will premiere on Apple TV+ on April 22.
  • Magic Johnson says NBC was a potential suitor for the show.
  • Apple TV+ said "this is over" and won out, says Johnson.

When They Call Me Magic, a docuseries about Magic Johnson, premieres later this month, it'll do so on Apple TV+. But it could have landed on NBC instead, says the former Basketball player.

Speaking in a lengthy interview with Variety, Johnson went into more detail about how the documentary series came about. We already knew that the popularity of Michael Jordan's The last Dance over on Netflix was a factor in They Call Me Magic being made. But now we know that Apple TV+ almost wasn't the series' home.

Johnson says that NBC was the outfit that was "serious" about making it happen — that was until Apple TV+ came calling.

The success of that 2020 sports retrospective from ESPN Films and Netflix — which premiered during the early stay-at-home days of the pandemic and inspired obsessive viewership — had networks and streamers all over town knocking on Johnson's door. "Everybody called," he says. "Everybody put in a bid. And then NBC got serious. And Apple said, 'No way.' I love their approach, because they waited. They came in and said, 'This is over.'"

That makes it sound like Apple's deep pockets came into effect when getting the deal done, something we've heard before. The people behind Pachinko said that the show was only possible because of Apple's funding — something other companies weren't interested in matching.

Pachinko went on to be something of a sleeper hit. There's no doubt that They Call Me Magic will capture attention when it arrives on April 22, though.

If you want to enjoy They Call Me Magic in style, be sure to check out our list of the best Apple TV deals on the market today.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.