By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle could be following the Obamas to Netflix.
Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said he would be interested in speaking to the Sussexes about working together. Speaking at an event in Los Angeles over the weekend, he told the Press Association : “Who wouldn’t be interested? Yes, sure.” Harry and Meghan will no longer be working members of the royal family after April, and will split their time between the U.K. and North America.
On Saturday, Buckingham Palace announced a deal had been reached for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to relinquish their official duties as members of the British royal family. They have agreed not to use “His/Her Royal Highness,” and will repay the state the costs of renovating their U.K. base, Frogmore Cottage. But they’re now free to pursue their own business opportunities overseas.
Harry left London on Sunday evening for Vancouver after his last official engagement as a senior member of the royal family. He will join his wife of less than one year and baby Archie, whom he hasn’t seen in several weeks. Last weekend, he delivered a speech to say he and Meghan were, due to the intense media scrutiny, left with little option but to leave the U.K.
‘Who wouldn’t be interested? Yes, sure.’
—Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer
“We both do everything we can to fly the flag and carry out our roles for this country with pride. Once Meghan and I were married, we were excited, we were hopeful, and we were here to serve,” he said. “For those reasons, it brings me great sadness that it has come to this. The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back, is not one I made lightly.”
He added, “It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges, and I know I haven’t always gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option. What I want to make clear is we’re not walking away, and we certainly aren’t walking away from you. Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible.”
Netflix could be one source of ample private funding, as could Disney and Apple TV. Meghan, Duchess of Sussex — as she will be styled after they formally relinquish their royal duties — has already agreed to do a voice-over for Disney in return for a donation to Elephants Without Borders, the U.K. Times reported . (Disney was not immediately available for comment.)
Harry is friends with former U.S. president Barack Obama, and will likely adopt the Obamas’ post-White House career model, some royal observers say. Barack and Michelle Obama reportedly signed an eight-figure deal with Netflix /zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite NFLX +1.61% to produce high-brow historical, biographical and social-justice programming with their company, Higher Ground Productions.
Netflix would give the Sussexes a platform of 158 million paid subscribers and be a coup for the streaming service, which won critical praise for, “The Crown,” chronicling the life of Queen Elizabeth. That may or may not be a turn off for the royal couple. Harry already participated in a documentary on mental health with Oprah Winfrey, a friend of the couple, for Apple TV /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +2.39% .
The media mogul responded to reports that she had helped the Sussexes navigate and negotiate their #Megxit — as the royal scandal has been described in the U.K. press, a riff on #Brexit, the U.K.’s protracted exit from the European Union. “Meg and Harry do not need my help figuring out what is best for them,” Oprah said in a statement, according to The New York Post .
In a recently resurfaced video, as Meghan greeted Beyonce and Jay Z in a line at the opening of the movie “The Lion King” in London last July, Prince Harry told Disney chairman and chief executive Bob Iger, “You know she does voice-overs?” Iger responded, “Oh, really? Ah, I did not know that,” and laughed. Harry responded, “You seem surprised, but yeah she’s really interested.”
On their new website, SussexRoyal.com, the couple was hoping for more of a hybrid royal role and had said they planned to continue representing the queen, but cutting ties with the public purse and pursuing their own commercial interests did not appear to be acceptable to Buckingham Palace. Their Instagram /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB +0.78% account has 10.9 million followers, adding 700,000 in one week.
The Sussexes have already cut their teeth in broadcast media. In 2017, Harry interviewed Barack Obama when he was the guest editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today program and, last year, ITV in the U.K. broadcast “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey,” which aired in the U.S. on ABC /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS +1.60% Another route: The Obamas reportedly inked a book deal for more than $65 million .
Netflix is broadly unchanged at $339.7 over the last 12 months. Disney rose by 30% to $144.5 and Apple is up 103% at $318.5 over the same period. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +1.51% is up 18.8% at 29,348.10 over the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +1.61% increased 24.7% at 3,329.62. (Netflix was not immediately available for comment.)