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Meghan and Harry blow: Netflix deal only intended to ‘attract new subscribers’

Meghan Markle: Expert discusses background of 'Pearl' project

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It has been almost a year since Meghan and Harry announced they had signed a string of lucrative contracts with the streaming giants Netflix and Spotify. This month, the Duchess of Cambridge announced the pair’s second project with Netflix, an animated series called ‘Pearl’. The only other film project they have announced, ‘Heart of Invictus’, will follow competitors preparing to compete in the 2022 games.

For Spotify, the couple have produced and released just one podcast episode on ‘Archewell Audio’, a 30 minute clip which saw other famous names talk about how they fared during lockdown.

Many have voiced surprise at the lack of content they have produced considering the vast sums involved.

While the Netflix deal is thought to be worth £109million, Spotify shelled out £36m to get them on board.

Professor Simone Ferriani, an expert in entrepreneurship who specialises in film and media, said he believed there was “not much in” their deal with the streaming giants other than to “leverage” their global brand.

He told Express.co.uk: “I think there is not much behind it other than the attempt to leverage Harry and Megan’s global brand and attract new prospective Netflix subscribers.

“Content-wise, I don’t think there’s any special capability as Harry and Megan’s production company – as far as I know – has not developed anything so far, so they literally have zero production experience.

“More than anything it looks like this is a big marketing hook.”

Meghan and Harry do have in their team some experienced producers.

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Earlier this year, they added Ben Browning to the Sussex squad, an Oscar-nominated producer.

However, it is true that the Duke and Duchess themselves have no background in this aspect of the creative industry.

Many have warned that the two must produce the goods or face having their novelty “wear off”.

Daniela Elser, writing for News.com.au, noted while creating TV series’ and podcasts takes time, “the clock is ticking for Harry and Meghan to prove they are worth such astronomical sums of money”.

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She drew a parallel with other famous names who struck deals with streaming platforms like Shonda Rhimes and Barack and Michelle Obama.

It took them 11 months from the signing of their contracts to reveal their debut slate of seven projects for the company.

Meghan and Harry passed that 11 month mark earlier in July, but to no further announcement.

Ms Elser wrote: “When the Sussexes do start unveiling their slate of TV and podcasting projects they will get one shot; that is, one chance to impress audiences and make their mark either in terms of steaming figures or critical plaudits.

“When the novelty and the lustre of working with members of the Royal Family wears off, if they don’t have streaming counts or a clutch of awards to show for themselves, then will their contracts be renewed? Essentially, they will have a brief window to prove they are worth the hundreds of millions that corporate behemoths have bet on them.

“No pressure now or anything.

“The fact is, even billion-dollar companies can’t afford to keep ploughing truckloads of cash into two very, very famous contractors if they do not prove to be a sound investment.”

Russel Myers, the Daily Mirror’s royal editor, echoing Ms Elser, told Australia’s ‘Today’ programme that bosses from both Spotify and Netflix would soon be “wondering where their hard-earned dollars are going exactly”.

He said: “They were paid to the tune of $150million (£109m) for the Netflix deal they signed. Spotify has given them between $30 to $50m (£21m; £36m), we understand.

“And where is the content? We have had one podcast so far, and that hasn’t caught the world alight.

“And they have a promised Netflix show which I’m sure will be fantastic because it’s all about the Invictus Games.

“But certainly the big bosses at the two streaming giants will be wanting their pound of flesh.

“And if they are not producing the goods, the big bosses will be wondering where their hard-earned dollars are going exactly.”

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