The legendary US talk show host and CEO has signed a multi-year partnership to create content for Apple’s mysterious streaming service.

A brief statement from Apple said: “Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world.

“Winfrey’s projects will be released as part of a lineup of original content from Apple.”

Apple has committed around US$1.3 billion to the forthcoming streaming service which may be crucial in both retaining its existing customer base and attracting new purchasers. It is expected to eventually be locked in a battle with established and big-spending streaming players such as Netflix, Amazon and HBO.

There was no comment from Winfrey and no further detail on what form the projects will take, though CNN has reported it is expected she will host an interview program.

Despite Apple having poured considerable resources into securing creative and production talent for its streaming service, very little is known about when the service will be launched or what form it will take.

Apple has already signed up a range of big names, including:
Reese Witherspoon, to produce a 10-part series based on a forthcoming Curtis Sittenfeld book
– Jennifer Aniston, for a morning show drama series
– Wunderkind director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash and La La Land), for an unknown project
– David Gordon Green, to direct a Hailee Steinfeld vehicle
The Big Sick co-writers Emily V Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, who will work on an anthology series

In an interview with CNN Money in March 2018, Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue admitted the company has no real expertise in content creation.

“We don’t know anything about making television. So, what skills does Apple bring to that? And the viewpoint is: very little. There’s other things we bring. We know how to create apps, we know how to do distribution, we know how to market. But we don’t really know how to create shows.”

Apple has secured major star power by signing Winfrey

Under the deal, Winfrey will retain her position as CEO of Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which she launched in 2011 in partnership with Discovery Inc.

In December 2017, she sold the majority of her stake in OWN and extended her contract with the company through to 2025. The contract includes limited carve-outs which allow her to appear on camera on other platforms. She has recently appeared as a special correspondent on 60 Minutes.

OWN has produced hit shows such as Queen Sugar and has been one of the fastest-growing cable networks.

Winfrey has a track record of successfully producing television content with her company Harpo Productions which is also the parent company of OWN. Harpo has been responsible for various Winfrey side projects such as Oprah: Where Are They Now? and Oprah’s Master Class as well as launching popular shows including Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray. It has also produced films, including co-producing the Academy Award-nominated Selma.

Winfrey has been one of the most popular entertainers in television history as well as a prominent philanthropist. Earlier this month, a major new exhibition devoted to her legacy opened in Washington DC.

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