Harry and Meghan’s ‘lack of productivity’ left Spotify and Netflix bosses ‘underwhelmed’, report says

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex left executives at both Spotify and Netflix “underwhelmed” by their alleged inabilty to produce enough content, it has been reported.

According to The Wall Street Journal,Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s “inexperience as producers” have impacted their business forays into content production that expanded beyond their own personal stories.

Sources close to the streaming giants allegedly said that both Netflix and Spotify “have been underwhelmed by the lack of productivity by the Sussexes”.

The publication also cited employees and associates of Archewell, Harry and Meghan’s foundation, as saying that the company “lacks direction” and that the Sussexes “at times seem surprised by the work required to finish entertainment projects”.

It comes after last week’s announcement that Spotify and Archewell Audio’s three-year partnership has come to an end and will not be renewed. Archewell Audio said the companies “mutually agreed to part ways and are proud of the series we made together”.

Under the US$20m (£15.6m) deal, which was signed in 2020, the Sussexes produced just one series of the duchess’s podcast, Archetypes, which consisted of 12 episodes. They reportedly discussed a second series with Spotify, but it was axed.

This week, it emerged that Taylor Swift reportedly declined to appear on Meghan’s podcast despite receiving a “personal letter” from the duchess. The claim was made in a WSJ report published on Saturday (24 June) that described Spotify executives as being “frustrated” with the time it took Archewell to come up with an idea for Meghan’s show and assemble a team to work on it.

The publication also reported last week that the couple did not meet “the productivity benchmarks required to receive the full payout from the deal”.

A spokesperson for Archewell told the publication: “New companies often make changes in their startup phase, both with people and strategy, and we are no exception. We’re more equipped, focused and energised than ever before.”

The company, which was founded by Harry and Meghan in 2019, recently hired a new head of scripted content, actor and producer Tracy Ryerson, the spokesperson added. It comes after the foundation’s president, Mandana Dayani, stepped down from her role, with Harry and Meghan taking “full lead”.

The Independent has contacted the Sussexes’ representative for comment.

Harry Meghan (Netflix)
Harry Meghan (Netflix)

Other sources were also cited as saying that Netflix is “unlikely to renew” their US$100m (£78.6m) deal with the Sussexes, which was signed in September 2020 and runs out in 2025. At the time, it was understood that the deal would see the couple making TV series, films and children’s shows for the streaming platform, but three years later, they have only produced their docuseries Harry and Meghan, which premiered at the end of 2022.

However, a Netflix spokesperson told the WSJ that it valued the partnership with Archewell and that Harry and Meghan was Netflix’s biggest documentary debut.

She added: “We’ll continue to work together on a number of projects.”

It was reported that the Sussexes hoped to make an animated children’s show titled Pearl, but it was cancelled by Netflix, as were two other TV ideas that were rejected in the past year.

Podcast ideas that the duke reportedly had for Spotify that were also rejected include a series that would have seen Harry interviewing figures such as Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump about their “childhood trauma”.

Prince Harry reportedly pitched an idea for a Spotify podcast that would see him interviewing figures like Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin about their ‘childhood trauma’ (Getty)
Prince Harry reportedly pitched an idea for a Spotify podcast that would see him interviewing figures like Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin about their ‘childhood trauma’ (Getty)

It was also reported that Harry pitched an idea for a podcast about fatherhood, which he hoped to interview the unmarried, childless Pope Francis for, according to Bloomberg. The WSJ article alleged that while the couple had proved they could “mine their personal stories”, they “have struggled to make content that stretched beyond their own experiences”.

Following the news that the Sussexes’ partnership with Spotify had ended, leading executive Bill Simmons criticised the pair on his own podcast, The Ringer, and branded them “f***ing grifters”.

He added: “I gotta get drunk one night and tell the story of the Zoom I had with Harry to help him with a podcast idea. It’s one of my best stories.”

However, it appears the Sussexes’ business potential has not reached its limit. In April, Meghan reportedly signed with a major talent agency, WME, which represents some of Hollywood’s biggest stars including Rihanna, Dwayne Johnson, and Matt Damon.

Variety reported that she will be represented by Ari Emanuel and her focus will primarily be on film and television production and brand partnerships instead of acting. Archewell will also be represented by WME.

Harry and Meghan’s decision to step down from the royal family in 2021 and move to Montecito, California, with their children was made so that they could become “financially independent”, the pair said in a statement at the time.

They live in a mansion with their son Prince Archie and daughter Princess Lilibet. Harry last saw members of the royal family in early May, when he attended the coronation of his father King Charles III alone without Meghan or their two children.