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How the Oprah and Apple partnership is going to change television for the better

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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If ever you needed a reason to sign up to Apple’s new streaming service, this is it.

I know that technically we all have the same amount of hours in the day as Oprah, but it doesn’t feel that way to me.

What she achieves in the same 24 hour span that we all share is astonishing. She once detailed her daily routine to The Hollywood Reporter and it was remarkable: she never sets an alarm clock but rather visualises the time she wants to wake up in the morning and, because she is Oprah, that tactic works. 

She then spends her day wiring money to and from various different places, has conference calls with production companies, reads scripts, approves television shows, exercises, gardens, makes dinner for Stedman and ends the day by the fire, writing in gratitude journals.

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The sheer force of her cultural output was made known at this week’s announcement of Apple’s new streaming service Apple+, at which Oprah was the undeniable star. 

After wheeling out some of the famous faces who will be contributing content to the platform – including Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Stephen Spielberg and Kumail Nanjiani – Apple ended with Oprah, who appeared on stage at the brand’s Silicon Valley headquarters to announce that she will be producing content exclusively with the streaming platform from now on.

Oprah, gracing the world at the Apple announcement

That includes two original documentaries on the subjects of mental health and sexual assault in the workplace, as well as turning her world-famous book club into a television show featuring live-streamed interviews with authors. 

“I want to reach that sweet spot where insight and perspective, truth and tolerance actually intersect,” Oprah said in her speech. “I am proud and honoured to be a part of this platform where I can connect with people around the world to show meaningful ways to create positive change.”  

There’s no-one I’d rather listen to on the subject of both mental health and sexual assault than Oprah, who has proven herself time and time again to be one of the world’s most insightful, considerate and powerful interviewers. 

Most recently, she was tasked with speaking to Leaving Neverland’s director Dan Reed and subjects Wade Robson and James Safechuck about their allegations against Michael Jackson. For many, Oprah’s interview is one of the most important pieces of reporting on that documentary and, indeed, the entirety of the Michael Jackson abuse scandal

But let’s talk about the book club for a second. For more than a decade, the book club portion of Oprah’s talk show was one of its most popular and successful segments. Some of the spotlighted titles included Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, James Frey’s controversial A Million Little Pieces and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Repackaged editions of her book club choices, branded with the Oprah seal of approval, have sold more than 22 million copies. (Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth being the most successful title of all.) 

That is an astonishing number of books moved courtesy of the sheer power of Oprah’s name. Just imagine the kind of impact her book club will have on the Apple platform, which could allow users to purchase books to be downloaded onto their devices all from within her television shows. 

Oprah dreams of a world of wide, curious readers, and she believes that Apple is the company to turn that dream into a reality. Her partnership with Apple is about “building the biggest, most vibrant, most stimulating book club on the planet… I want to literally convene a meeting of the minds connecting us through books,” she said. 

Over at Netflix, Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop are also planning on launching a streaming book club. Details of how Goop’s book club is going to work are thin on the ground, but a statement from Goop revealed that it would also include interviews with authors.

Let the battle of the book clubs begin. 

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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