Apple and Oprah Winfrey Inked a Multi-Year Content Deal. Who’s the Big Winner?

An Evening With Oprah - Melbourne
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 02: Oprah Winfrey on stage during her An Evening With Oprah tour on December 2, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Photograph by Scott Barbour — Getty Images

Oprah Winfrey already runs her own cable network, acts in blockbuster films such as A Wrinkle in Time, has a stake in Weight Watchers, and is a contributor on the CBS news magazine, 60 Minutes. If that wasn’t enough, she’s now inked a multi-year contract to develop content for Apple, the company announced Friday. But who’s the bigger winner in the Oprah-Apple deal?

“Together, Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world,” Apple announced Friday.

The financial details of the agreement were undisclosed, but whatever the price, it’s clear Apple will be using the deal with Lady O to take on Netflix and Amazon, say industry watchers like Recode’s Peter Kafka.

But for Winfrey, the deal could provide an even brighter future, according to Chad Kawalec, founder of Hollywood-based The Brand Identity Center, which advises companies and celebrities on managing their public brands.

“She is just looking to increase her exposure in legitimate on-brand ways, and getting herself on different platforms will certainly help her do that,” Kawalec says. “OWN has not really knocked it out of the park, and she’s a smart woman. She knows that when she exposes her name, it extends her personal brand.”

Winfrey just extended her deal with OWN through 2025, its parent company Discovery Communications announced in December. So, the Apple partnership shouldn’t affect her deal with the cable network.

The tech giant did not respond to a inquiry as to whether Winfrey will appear in any of the shows she develops, but Kawalec thinks it’s a given.

“Apple would be mistaken if they don’t require her to be the face of the content she creates,” he said.

Kawalec believes Winfrey has a strategy, and that by appearing in Apple programming, she will “bring people into her network.”

The talk show titan’s deal with Apple is the latest round in the battle for talent among the technology giants. On Thursday, Amazon announced it had inked a first-look content deal with Nicole Kidman’s company Blossom Films.

Meanwhile, last month Netflix enlisted President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama to produce content for the streaming giant. That news came after the company also inked deals with superstar television producers, Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes.

Apple has previously signed production deals with Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and NBA star Kevin Durant.

“All of these people they’re bringing in are placing them in a position as players,” Kawalec explained. “That next step will be to get awards for this type of programming content, the same way that Netflix did.”

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