The business behind Harry and Meghan's CBS special with Oprah

The business behind Harry and Meghan’s CBS special with Oprah: Tell-all has been licensed in 68 countries including the UK – where ITV bought the rights for £1million – but the couple ‘aren’t taking a pay check or a donation to charity’

  • The special was produced by Harpo Productions – Oprah’s production company
  • ViacomCBS then acquired the rights to the special for an undisclosed amount 
  • An Oprah Winfrey Network rep says Harry and Meghan did not get paid and are not asking for a charity donation either
  • ViacomCBS is handling global sales of the special- they have already sold it in 17 countries and all of sub-Saharan Africa 
  • In the UK, ITV bid £1million for the rights to it, after a bidding war with Sky 
  • It’s unclear how much Oprah got from CBS, and how much CBS will give her of the global sales it has made 
  • Every network that is airing the special also stands to cash in enormously through advertising 
  • The BBC –  which is the British publish broadcasting channel beloved by the Royal Family – doesn’t run ads so can’t profit from it
  • It did not put itself in the bidding war, with a source saying last month that they ‘wont be pulling out the cheque book for this’ 

Harry and Meghan’s CBS Special with Oprah is set to make millions in licensing and advertising deals, but the couple aren’t being paid for it and aren’t accepting a donation to charity either, according to sources close to the production.

The special was produced by Harpo Productions, Oprah’s production company. She then sold it to ViacomCBS, along with the distribution rights, for an undisclosed amount. 

ViacomCBS has since made deals in 17 countries and all of Sub-Saharan Africa – where there are 52 countries – with other TV networks who wanted to show it.  

Harry and Meghan have not commented on whether or not they are getting paid but a representative for the Oprah Winfrey Network told Page Six that they weren’t. 

But Oprah and CBS are positioned to cash in enormously. 

Here is how they will profit.  

Oprah: Sold the special to CBS for an undisclosed amount 

Sold episode to CBS: Oprah’s production company, Harpo Productions, owns the episode. It was given to ViacomCBS for an undisclosed amount 

The financial details of their deal are being extremely closely guarded.  

Oprah’s best friend is Gayle King – one of the network’s biggest stars – who attended Meghan’s New York baby shower and who went to Windsor Castle to visit the pair before they quit royal life.

She is likely to have helped in greasing the deal between Oprah’s production company. She may have been involved in the entire interview conception.  

It’s unclear what the terms of their deal were; whether Oprah sold it to ViacomCBS for a lump sum that included the distribution rights, or if she sold it for a lump sum plus a percentage of the global sales that ViacomCBS has made from the deal. 

Oprah and Meghan have been introduced already – she sent her a hamper of organic coffee that is made by a company she invested in, and Oprah promptly plugged it on Instagram. 

Oprah also attended the couple’s wedding, before even meeting the pair, after inviting Meghan’s mother Doria over to her Montecito mansion for yoga. 

ViacomCBS: International licensing sales and advertising 

ViacomCBS has sold the special internationally. They have made deals in;  

  • U.K, where it will air on ITV on Monday, March 8 at 9 p.m. 
  • Sub-Saharan Africa, to M-Net. It will air on Monday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m. 
  • Australia, to Network 10 on Monday, March 8 at 8:30 p.m. 
  • Belgium, to VRT on channel Eén,. It will air on Monday, March 8 at 9:30 p.m. 
  • Canada, to Global TV. It will air on Sunday, March 7 at 8 p.m., when it airs on CBS.
  • Croatia and Germany, to RTL, where it will air on Monday, March 8 at 7.30 p.m.
  • Iceland, to Siminn, where it will air on Monday, March 8 at 8 p.m. 
  • Ireland, to RTE 2, where it will air on Monday, March 8 at 9:30 p.m.
  • Israel, to YesDocu, where it will air on Monday, March 8 at 9:30 p.m.
  • Italy, to Sky Italia-TV8, where it will air on Tuesday, March 9 at 9:30 p.m. 
  • Netherlands, to Net5, where it will air on Tuesday, March 9 at 8:30 p.m. 
  • New Zealand, to Discovery NZ/Three, where it will air on Tuesday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Denmark, Sweden and Norway, to TV3 where it will air on Monday, March 8 at 9pm in Denmark and Sweden and 9.30pm in Norway  
  • Switzerland, to SRF, where it will air on Saturday, March 13 at 10:25 p.m 

Every network will cash in enormously through advertising, including CBS. 

It’s unclear how much the special sold for in other countries, aside from the UK. There is the largest interest there, naturally, because of the couple’s background. 

The BBC – the British Broadcasting Service – did not bid for it. 

A source told British newspaper The Telegraph last month that it will not be ‘pulling out its cheque book’ – despite a reported desire by Meghan for it to be the network which aired it. 

Licensing rights: Oprah’s best friend is CBS star Gayle King. King went to Meghan’s baby shower and visited the couple in Windsor, before they quit royal life. She likely helped broker the deal between Oprah’s production company and her network for the rights to the special at the least. She may have been involved in the entire production of it 

The BBC is funded by the government through a nationwide television licence fee which TV viewers are required to pay annually. 

They therefore cannot profit from the interview in the same way that networks which do advertise can. 

The network is also considered the most prestigious and official in the country. It is the channel that The Queen’s speech is broadcast on every year, and has been a Royal Family favorite for years.

ITV ultimately paid £1million for the rights. 

ITV is also the network which produced and aired the famous interview in Africa, when the pair were still working for the royal family, where she said that no one had asked her if she was ‘OK’ and said she was struggling. 

In a statement, Kevin Lygo, ITV Managing Director Media & Entertainment, said: ‘This interview is already a national talking point and ITV is pleased to be able to offer UK audiences the opportunity to see it.’  

What’s in it for Harry and Meghan? 

While the pair reportedly aren’t being paid for the special, nor are they getting a financial donation, experts say it’s a way for them to turbo-charge the $1billion brand they are trying to build in the US. 

The pair have a raft of projects lined up, all of which stand to pay them handsomely. 

They have made deals with Netflix and Spotify, where they will produce TV series, documentaries and podcasts under their company name Archewell. 

They have also made prior, private appearances as speakers at events for banks. 

‘Not getting paid’: A spokesman for the Oprah Winfrey Network said the couple aren’t taking a pay check and aren’t getting a donation to charity either. Their representatives have said nothing about their participation in the interview or what they get out of it 

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