Oprah Winfrey and Apple TV+ end multi-year deal

Oprah Winfrey and Apple TV+ end multi-year deal

Oprah Winfrey and Apple TV+ are ending their multi-year content deal, three years after the tech giant launched its subscription streaming service.

The partnership, announced in 2018, created original programs for Apple TV+. At the time, the deal was considered an important step to showing Hollywood the A-list talent that Apple TV+ attracts and the iPhone maker’s ambitions in streaming.

Apple executives did not respond to requests for comment.

The change comes as streaming companies are re-evaluating what types of content best connect with consumers. Other companies including Warner Bros. Discovery and Netflix have made changes to their staffing as they look to cut costs.

Oprah helped put Apple TV+ on the map when it was a relative newcomer to the streaming space. Unlike its competitors like Netflix, Apple did not have a deep library of content at launch.

“Apple wanted to announce it had arrived and it was a force to be reckoned with,” said Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. “Signing up Oprah was a pretty strong message.”

Now that Apple is more established, the streamer has less need for such a high profile non-exclusive deal, Thompson said.

What’s more, Thompson noted, while Oprah has brought content to Apple TV+, some of her most talked about work wasn’t on the streaming platform. For example, her interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was on CBS.

Apple TV+ has evolved since the deal was announced, winning Emmys for its critically acclaimed programs such as comedy “Ted Lasso,” and becoming the first streamer to win an Academy Award for Best Picture with drama “CODA.”

Oprah’s most recent project with the streamer was a documentary on the life of Sidney Poitier called “Sidney” that launched on Sept. 23 on Apple TV+.

“The Apple platform allowed me to do what I do in a new way,” Oprah said at an Apple press event in 2019. “They’re a company that reimagined how we communicate … [they’re] in a billion pockets, y’all. That represents a major opportunity to make a genuine impact.”

Apple and Oprah will continue to work together on a project-by-project basis, according to people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment. The news was first reported by Puck.

Apple TV+, which charges $4.99 a month, has roughly 40 million paid subscribers, according to estimates from Wedbush Securities.

Staff writer Yvonne Villarreal contributed to this report.

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