Apple signs Oprah Winfrey to multi-year program deal

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Apple Inc said on Friday it had signed a multi-year deal with Oprah Winfrey to create original programing, a coup for the iPhone maker as it looks to compete in the booming digital entertainment market.

75th Golden Globe Awards – Photo Room – Beverly Hills, California, U.S., 07/01/2018 – Oprah Winfrey poses backstage with her Cecil B. DeMille Award. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

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

Apple gave no details of the type of programing that Winfrey would create, the value of the deal or when it might be released. Winfrey had no immediate comment.

The partnership with Winfrey, 64, regarded as one of the most influential people in the entertainment business, is the biggest original content deal struck by Apple so far as it aims to compete with Netflix Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Time Warner Inc’s HBO.

Apple in November ordered two seasons of a dramatic series with Hollywood stars Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, looking at the lives of people working on a morning television show.

It has also ordered a remake of Steven Spielberg’s 1980s science fiction anthology series “Amazing Stories.”

Under the deal, Winfrey will remain chief executive of cable channel OWN, which she launched in 2011 in partnership with Discovery Inc. Winfrey in December extended her contract with OWN through 2025, OWN and Apple said.

Under her contract with OWN, Winfrey can appear on camera on other platforms on a limited basis, although it was not immediately clear whether she would be doing so as part of the Apple partnership.

Known in the United States by millions on first-name basis, Winfrey rose to fame as the host of her own television talk show, using it to build a media empire that spans magazine publishing, movie and television production, cable TV and satellite radio.

Born into poverty, she is now one of the world’s wealthiest women and been nominated for two Academy Awards.

A rousing speech by Winfrey at the Golden Globes awards ceremony in January triggered an online campaign to try to persuade her to run for U.S. president in 2020.

She turned down the notion, telling InStyle magazine in an interview, “It’s not something that interests me.”

Additional reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Bill Rigby

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