Apple signs multi-year deal with Oprah Winfrey as the streaming wars heat up

Oprah Winfrey.

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Oprah Winfrey.
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Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

  • Oprah Winfrey has signed a multi-year deal with Apple to develop original programs.
  • Winfrey will remain chairperson of cable network OWN.
  • The deal escalates a streaming war between Apple and the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.

Apple just landed a formidable partner.

The company announced Friday that Oprah Winfrey has landed a “unique, multi-year content partnership” to “create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world.” Apple said in its announcement that the content will be released as part of a lineup of original content.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Winfrey will remain the chairperson and CEO of cable network OWN. THR also reported that the non-exclusive deal includes the likes of film, TV, applications, and books – just not podcasts. Financial aspects of the deal have not been revealed, but CNN reports that Winfrey is expected to have “an on-screen role as a host and interviewer.”

Winfrey’s partnership with Apple escalates a content war between streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. Apple has made a big push into original programming in the last year, announcing over a dozen new shows from the likes of Octavia Spencer, Damien Chazelle, and Kristen Wiig.

But it’s entering a highly competitive landscape.

Netflix has already landed star showrunners Ryan Murphy (“Pose,” “American Horror Story”) and Shonda Rhimes (“Scandal,” “How To Get Away With Murder”) in giant, exclusive deals. Netflix also just signed former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama to produce original shows and movies.

Hulu broke through the streaming noise with its Emmy-winning series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which beat Netflix to the Outstanding Drama Series trophy last year. Amazon is developing a “Lord of the Rings” TV series, of which it paid close to $250 million to acquire the rights to.

And then there’s the upcoming Disney streaming service, which is expected to launch next year and will include original content such as new “Star Wars” shows.

The only certainty in the streaming war is that audiences will have a lot to choose from, but Apple seems ready to stand its ground with Winfrey in its corner.