Apple strikes deal with Oprah, sets site on becoming content provider leader

Oprah Winfrey

Apple is taking a huge bit out of Hollywood and is  on its way to becoming one of the biggest content providers on the planet. Oprah, Stephen Spielberg, Reese Witherspoon and NBA player Kevin Durant are helping the tech giant reach its goal. 

Ok, that may be a bit of an overstatement at the moment, but you know Apple. It’s on its way to becoming a company worth a trillion dollars so it’s got money to burn to get to that point. 

The company said last year it planned to spend at least $1 billion in content by 2019. Its more than likely surpassed that already this year.

Last week Apple announced a deal with Oprah Winfrey, one of the most recognized players in the content world, to provide product for an as yet unnamed streaming service. The deal does not affect her deal with OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). Oprah remains CEO of own through 2025.

Details on Oprah’s deal are undisclosed but it’s huge news and possibly bad news for Amazon, Netflix and Hulu. Netflix signed a deal with the Obamas to provide content early this year, which is huge. This Oprah thing is on another level. 

“Together, Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world,” Apple said in a company statement released last week “Winfrey’s projects will be released as part of a lineup of original content from Apple.”

Ready For Production

According, Apple already has 20 shows ready for production. “Are you Sleeping,” a thriller about  a podcast that explores unsolved murders, is in production. Witherspoon is executive producer, with Oscar winner Octavia Spencer starring.


Witherspoon has three other shows pending with one  on hold because to be star Kristin Wiig backed out due to scheduling conflicts with “Wonder Woman 1984.”

Durant’s production company will provide “Swagger,” a show about his life, Amateur Athletic Union basketball and its players. Reggie Bythewood (“Get On The Bus,” “Shots Fired”) is one of the writers. 

Sesame Workshop, makers of “Sesame Street,” will provide a live action and animated show for the service.

J.J. Abrams is offering “Little Voices,” described as a “love letter to the musicality of New York.” Sara Barrellies will do the music. 

Remember Steven Spielberg’s “AmazIng Stories?” Apple sure does. The company ordered a season of that, too.

Grabbing Execs from Competition

So what does Apple know about creating content? According to Eddie Cue, senior vice-president, not much.

“We know how to create apps, we know how to do distribution, we know how to market,” Cue told CNN Money in March. “But we really don’t know how to crate shows.”

That’s why Apple has swiped high profile executiVes from rivals Sony Pictures, Hulu, Amazon and others to insure success, so when this new or revamped streaming service arrives, expect it to be polished, slick and off and running. 

Could we see a new iTunes? Apple has long promised a subscription service.  Or is this something completely new? 

What we do know is Apple already has a built in distribution system. There are currently 85.1 million iPhones in use. If that’s not impressive, there are 1.3 billion registered Apple devices active world wide, most if not all of which stream. 

Could we even see new hardware? 

How about an even bigger iPad with Dolby Atmos and HomePod tech built in. Or iPhone-sized entertainment centers for streaming and music (oops, that was an iPod)?

What ever Apple’s planning it’s going big. There are plenty more content makers to woo, known and burgeoning. The coming weeks will tell.