Apple has signed Oprah Winfrey to a multiyear deal for new original programs.
Apple is now going head to head with the likes of Netflix and Amazon in a war for consumers’ attention.
“Together, Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world,” the company said in a statement Friday. “Winfrey’s projects will be released as part of a lineup of original content from Apple.”
Apple did not specify whether Winfrey would appear in any of the shows, but she is expected to have an on-screen role as a host and interviewer. The company also declined to discuss financial aspects of the deal.
Apple said the deal will not affect Winfrey’s contract with OWN, the television network she launched in 2011. Winfrey recently extended her contract there through 2025.
Apple, Amazon and Netflix have been competing to lock-in producers, show runners and performers, and paying unprecedented sums to do so. Apple has made deals for more than a dozen shows with big names like Reese Witherspoon, Steven Spielberg, Octavia Spencer and Kevin Durant.
Netflix recently signed former President Barack and former First Lady Michelle Obama in a multiyear deal that will see them producing and starring in original shows. Netflix also has a show hosted by David Letterman that features interviews with the world’s biggest celebrities.
The Los Gatos, Calif., company has explored the idea of buying movie theaters in Los Angeles and New York that would enable it to screen a growing pipeline of feature films and documentaries.
Netflix executives considered acquiring Los Angeles-based Landmark Theatres, co-owned by Mark Cuban, but backed off the idea, said two people who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans are private.
One of the knowledgeable people said Netflix decided not to pursue a deal because executives believed the sale price for Landmark was too high.
A deal to purchase Landmark, owned by Cuban and Todd Wagner, would give Netflix a footprint of theaters in major media markets across the country. The privately held chain has 53 theatres comprising 255 screens in 27 markets including New York, Denver, Washington and San Francisco, according to its website. The exhibitor has three Los Angeles locations.
Netflix pulled in $2.67 billion in revenue last year, including a $66 million profit. Maybe one day it will have its own theater.
Netflix is in talks with former President Barack Obama for a new series.
The New York Times reports that the deal would have Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, provide content that would only be available on Netflix. Sources close to the deal indicate that the series might focus on inspirational stories or feature moderated discussions of the topics that were highlights of the Obamas’ time in the White House.
The report indicates that some episodes could feature conversations on health care or voting rights moderated by Barack Obama, while Michelle Obama might moderate a show focusing on nutrition, for example. Other potential show ideas rumored for the deal include documentaries or other projects endorsed by and possibly introduced by the Obamas.
Executives from Apple and Amazon have also reportedly been in talks with the former president and first lady.
Terms of the Netflix deal are unknown at this point.
Netflix ordered a 10-episode series of She’s Gotta Have It, which the company is a “contemporary update” to the original film. Lee will direct every episode, and executive produce alongside his wife, Tonya Lewis Lee.
As Deadline notes, the series was originally in development at Showtime in 2014, but never came to fruition. She’s Gotta Have It follows Nola Darling, a 20-something Brooklynite navigating the pitfalls of dating a trio of men. The original was shot in just 12 days on a very limited budget. Although details on the series version are scarce, one assumes it will be made with fewer restrictions. The project will be Lee’s first TV series.