Meghan and Harry Struggle to Find Success with Netflix and Spotify

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, a couple celebrated for their charm and seemingly genuine nature, have ventured deeply into the world of media and business, although with fluctuating degrees of success.

by Faruk Imamovic
Meghan and Harry Struggle to Find Success with Netflix and Spotify
© Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, a couple celebrated for their charm and seemingly genuine nature, have ventured deeply into the world of media and business, although with fluctuating degrees of success. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they are formally known, have struck massive deals with streaming giants like Netflix and Spotify, yet their endeavors have yielded mixed outcomes.

Netflix's commitment to Harry and Meghan included a deal reportedly worth $100 million, which began promisingly with the launch of the documentary series "Harry and Meghan." The series, covering the couple's romantic journey and subsequent challenges with the royal family, captivated audiences worldwide, making it Netflix's most-watched documentary debut.

However, the reception of other projects under this deal was less enthusiastic. The animated children’s series "Pearl," created by Meghan through their production company Archewell Productions, was canceled before its premiere.

Further projects like "Heart of Invictus" and "Live to Lead" failed to capture significant attention, raising questions about the sustainability of their partnership with Netflix, which might not be renewed in 2025. Spotify's experience was similar.

The $20 million deal initially appeared promising but faltered due to sparse output from the couple. Their podcast "Archetypes," which explored the constraints of labels against women, saw a full release, but was insufficient to fulfill the contract's expectations, leading to an early dissolution of their partnership.

The Future of Sussex Productions

Despite the setbacks, two new productions are in the pipeline for Netflix. One, curated by Meghan, aims to celebrate simple joys like cooking and gardening, while the other will focus on professional polo, featuring Prince Harry.

These projects might benefit from lower production costs and the inherent appeal of the couple's public personas. However, whether these can reverse the couple's fortunes in media remains uncertain. Experts like Michael Pachter, a managing director at Wedbush Securities, suggest that Netflix might continue its association with the Sussexes because of the existing financial commitments.

"Netflix can cancel this anytime they want and just pay them the unpaid amount," Pachter noted. This hints at a cautious approach from Netflix, weighing the potential benefits of the couple's remaining projects against their past performance.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle© Getty Images/Mike Coppola

The Broader Challenge of Celebrity-Driven Media

The Sussexes are not alone in their struggle to convert fame into successful media ventures. The industry is fraught with examples of celebrities who have failed to transition into other roles despite their initial fame.

Whether it be acting, sports, or even royalty, the shift to media production has proven challenging for many. Successful transitions are rare and often highlighted by the achievements of individuals like Reese Witherspoon and LeBron James, who have managed to carve out niches in media production.

However, these are exceptions rather than the rule, as evidenced by numerous failed "vanity deals" in Hollywood and recent ventures like the canceled talk show on CNN featuring Gayle King and Charles Barkley. The future of Meghan and Harry in the business of media remains to be seen.

With ongoing projects and potential new ventures like Meghan's lifestyle brand, American Riviera Orchard, the couple continues to explore various avenues. Meghan's foray into lifestyle products, including skincare and accessories, may echo her previous experiences running the lifestyle blog The TIG.

Evaluating Celebrity Impact on Media Ventures

The Celebrity Influence: A Double-Edged Sword

The involvement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in media projects is a textbook example of how celebrity status can both fuel and impede business ventures.

On the one hand, their fame attracts initial interest and investment, as seen with their lucrative deals with Netflix and Spotify. On the other hand, maintaining momentum and viewer engagement beyond the allure of celebrity proves to be a significant challenge.

This phenomenon is not unique to the Sussexes. The entertainment industry is replete with celebrities who have ventured into personal projects with varying degrees of success. The initial buzz created by their name recognition often gives way to the harsh realities of audience expectations and market dynamics.

For every successful venture like those led by Reese Witherspoon or LeBron James, there are numerous others that falter despite high-profile backing.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle© Getty Images/Bryan Bedder

Strategic Choices and Market Realities

The decisions made by Netflix and Spotify in their dealings with Harry and Meghan reflect a broader strategic calculation.

These platforms seek to capitalize on the high visibility of the Sussexes but remain cautious, ready to reevaluate their investments based on actual performance rather than projected popularity alone. This strategy is evident in the cancellation of projects that do not meet expectations and the renegotiation of terms when outputs do not align with contractual obligations.

For Harry and Meghan, their ongoing projects suggest an attempt to recalibrate their approach. The upcoming Netflix series focusing on everyday activities like cooking and gardening may represent a strategic shift towards more relatable content that requires less dramatic flair and more authentic engagement.

Similarly, Harry’s involvement in a documentary about polo leverages his genuine interest and expertise in the sport, potentially offering a more organic content experience for viewers.

The Role of Authenticity in Celebrity Ventures

The critical factor for celebrities transitioning into media production is authenticity.

Audiences today are more discerning and can easily distinguish between genuine passion projects and opportunistic ventures. Meghan's previous success with her blog, The TIG, and her ongoing efforts to establish a lifestyle brand could play to her strengths if they authentically reflect her interests and expertise.

However, the challenge remains significant. As celebrities navigate the shift from their original domains to media production, they must find a balance between leveraging their fame and offering substantial, engaging content.

The experience of other celebrities in similar transitions shows that success is possible but requires a thoughtful approach that resonates with audiences on a deeper level.

Netflix Prince Harry Meghan Markle