Apple has began a long-term partnership with Oprah Winfrey to develop programming and original content for the company’s rumored video streaming service. Apple kept the statement short, saying only that “Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world.”
In 2015, Winfrey’s own TV channel, OWN, was available to over 70 percent of US households with a cable or satellite service. In December 2017, she sold the majority of the network to Discovery Inc but she remains CEO.
The terms of her deal with Apple are unknown but it’s expected that the content will be tied to the ongoing efforts Apple has undertaken to develop video content, few of which have not yet been as successful as they hoped.
In August 2017, Apple was said to be investing $1 billion in unique content and programming. This rumored budget is roughly what Amazon spent in 2013 when it released its first original shows and about half of what HBO spent in 2016, making it unlikely that the company will directly tackle industry stalwarts.
Apple has also reportedly provided a blank check for Drake to develop his own shows and movies and signed a deal with “Star Trek” and “Battlestar Galactica” reebot alum Ronald D. Moore to work on a new space drama. It is also rumored that the company is paying $5 million per episode for a ten-episode season of “Amazing Stories”, a revival of the Amblin Television and NBCUniversal sci-fi anthology.
Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine studio is tied to three projects with the network, with the first show starring Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston in a drama based on morning show production. The second is a Nichelle Tramble Spellman’s “Are You Sleeping,” with the “Serial” podcast creator onboard in an advisory role, and Octavia Spencer starring and the third a sketch comedy show starring Kristen Wiig.
Of course, these are all part of a broader $1 billion investment in original programming, a considerable but still lower investment than its competitors. You can see a more comprehensive list of Apple’s efforts here.