Oprah Winfrey has validated her business strategy after reportedly netting over Ksh765,550, 000 (US$7 million) for the exclusive interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle.
Besides making the staggering sum, the interview that was aired by CBS was watched by over 17 million viewers, according to The Washington Post, a figure comparable to numbers seen during major sporting events in the US.
Because of the high interest in the interview prior to the airing on Sunday, March 7 in the United States (US) and on Monday, March 8 in the United Kingdom (UK), CBS was charging advertisers a rate of about Ksh35,636,250 (US$325,000) for 30 seconds of air time during the program, Forbes said citing a Wall Street Journal article.
Forbes said that the amount is twice what CBS normally charges advertisers for primetime air time.
The network beat out rival media companies, ABC and NBC, for the rights to air the show dubbed, Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A Primetime Special, by signing a contract between US$7 million and US$9 million.
CBS, to cash in on the special, heavily promoted the interview on its other premium shows, including CBS This Morning and CBS Evening News.
The high interest from advertisers forced CBS to stretch the interview to a full two hours to accommodate adverts.
For media content business experts, it is Oprah’s cunning business acumen that also deserves an accolade.
Among the best-content creators in the media business, Oprah stands out from the crowd having wiggled out from making deals that would otherwise commit her fully to one company such as Apple, Amazon or Netflix.
According to Forbes.com, Oprah has in the previous years inked content creation deals with Apple and Warner Bros for syndicated shows with experts stunned by her ability to choose the right platform for content placement.
In today’s media world disrupted by digital innovations, a deeper understanding of corporates and audiences — and especially how to tap into old-school skills to create special live events whether for television or digital — are skills much needed and of which Oprah, who was once a correspondent, possess and exhibits.
Oprah, who is worth about KSH296 billion (US$2.7 billion), made much of her wealth from her talk show, Oprah Winfrey Show, a program she later transitioned into a business empire after hosting it for 25 years.
In 2011, Oprah launched her own cable channel, OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), owning at least 25% of the shares.