Apple strikes multi-year deal with Oprah Winfrey to develop original content

Oprah Winfrey's speech at the Golden Globes led to calls for her to stand for president - REUTERSOprah Winfrey's speech at the Golden Globes led to calls for her to stand for president - REUTERS
Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes led to calls for her to stand for president – REUTERS

Apple has signed a multi-year deal with chat-show host Oprah Winfrey to develop a series of programmes, as technology giants race to take the lead in entertainment. 

The iPhone maker said it was looking to “embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world”, although did not provide any further detail on the programmes or Ms Winfrey’s role in them. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter both Amazon and Netflix were also looking to strike deals with Ms Winfrey, but Apple managed to clinch a deal after “aggressively pursuing” the philanthropist and TV star.

She is a significant get for Apple, as the host of one of the most-watched daytime shows in America, and her signing a deal with Apple raises its Hollywood profile substantially.

Earlier this year, her Golden Globes speech led to calls for her to stand for president in the 2020 elections, and her international standing received a boost last month when she attended the Royal Wedding. 

The Hollywood Reporter said the deal with Apple could also include books and films, which could then be distributed through a number of Apple channels.

Profile | Oprah WinfreyProfile | Oprah Winfrey
Profile | Oprah Winfrey

The arrangement is not expected to affect her current contract with Discovery-backed cable network OWN, which she renewed late last year through to 2025. No financial details of the Apple agreement were disclosed.

It comes as technology giants race to expand their offerings in the entertainment space, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into developing original content.

Apple is thought to have pledged to spend $1bn on original content, in an effort to catch rivals Netflix and Amazon which have been developing their own programmes for years. It is thought Apple will start rolling out its shows next year. 

In 2017, Netflix spent $6.3bn on both original and acquired programming and is expected to up that to $8bn this year. Earlier this year, it signed the former president Barack Obama and Michelle Obama to star in and produce shows.

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Meanwhile, Amazon has recently made a push into sports broadcasting, and last week secured one of two packages of live Premier League action from 2019 to 2022.

Earlier this year it struck a deal for the exclusive UK TV rights to the US Open tennis tournament and also bought the rights to the ATP World Tour. 

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