Oprah Winfrey has been busy the past couple weeks promoting Sidney, the very good tribute documentary about Sidney Poitier, which she produced for AppleTV+. But behind the scenes, I’m told, Oprah’s relationship with Apple is changing. That big multi-year deal she announced in 2018 is ending, and Apple isn’t renewing. Apple confirmed the split to me but declined to comment, as did Winfrey’s rep.
The writing’s been on the wall for this one. If I asked you to name Oprah’s biggest moments over the past few years, you’d probably say the Harry and Meghan interview or the Adele special, both of which aired on CBS. She’s done a project for Smithsonian Channel, her popular book club is on oprahdaily.com and Apple Books, and she’s got all of those OWN shows.
That’s the benefit of a non-exclusive deal; Oprah could do things like The Oprah Conversations and the mental health special The Me You Can’t See for AppleTV+, while also moonlighting on different outlets that best matched the projects. The royals special became an event on CBS, drawing 17.1 million viewers for its initial airing. AppleTV+ does not release viewership numbers, but it is believed to have less than 40 million subscribers, so it’s safe to say Harry and Meghan would have generated much smaller numbers there.