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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s embarrassing Netflix deadline is looming

If current Hollywood history is made, April 19, 2022 will go down in history as the day everything changed.

It should have been a routine earnings call, with Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings presenting the company’s latest numbers to tech and business reporters. Instead, Hastings announced that the company had lost hundreds of thousands of subscribers for the first drop in numbers in 10 years.

The revelations immediately set off an earthquake of sorts from Wall Street to Los Angeles, wiping $75 billion in value from the company’s value within 24 hours.

Why this matters is the consequences this precipitous, breathtaking twist of fate could have for two people about 450km south of Netflix’s headquarters in the affluent enclave of Montecito.

In the wake of that one call, not only did the streaming giant’s once unassailable hold on the entertainment industry falter, but Harry and Meghan’s supposedly cashed-in future, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, looks much more uncertain.

Monday has been 712 days since the world learned on September 2, 2020 that the newly emancipated Sussexes had signed a $140 million ($197 million) deal with Netflix, via news outlet no less than That New York Times with the story touting the duo’s “new Hollywood careers.”

But today, those “new Hollywood careers” have yet to really take off, while the once-mighty Netflix has lost more than $200 billion ($280 billion) in value this year (yes, billions with a “b”) ).

Almost two years into all the self-inflicted roar of September 2, 2020, the landscape has changed significantly for both the titular duo and the streamer among them all.

Will – or can – the Sussex/Netflix marriage survive?

Since 2020, not only has the fate of Netflix shaken wildly, but also that of Harry and Meghan.

When the deal was announced, it seemed like the most obvious and logical pairing: two of the world’s most famous people would worthy produce documentaries or something; in return; Netflix had to announce the fact that they had a real duke and duchess in their books. Harry and Meghan would get Squillions; the company would reap the rewards of the decade’s PR coup.

However, the royal duo isn’t as hot now as it was then, is it?

More than 30 months have passed since Harry and Meghan walked away from a life of suffocating royal duties for the greener pastures of California and the lucrative embrace of American corporations.

In that time, they’ve managed to strike a slew of headline-grabbing deals, including with Spotify, coaching firm BetterUp, and with Ethic, a fintech wealth manager, along with launching their charitable foundation and a seemingly endless parade of photo opportunities.

On paper, it sounds like a whirlwind of achievements and just the kind of industrious self-start that America was founded on. Except… what did they actually achieve?

Yes, they have made a number of donations to causes ranging from World Food Kitchen to repairing the roof of a women’s shelter after a storm, reflecting their generosity and hunger to help others. Hats off. But writing a check here and there is hardly the kind of work that will ever get her longlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Unfortunately for two people who seem to genuinely care, there isn’t a problem, not a reason they’ve really moved the needle since they started their new lives.

More importantly, their Netflix and Spotify paymasters have failed to truly establish themselves as the leading voices of the day. They may do their best to sell themselves as inspirational leaders, but the proof is in the limp pudding that was the lackluster involvement in Harry’s recent UN speech.

The international community barely turned up in droves to hear him speak, while Washington largely ignored them.

Meghan’s call to senators about paid parental leave last year went down as did a gluten-free and dairy-free scone at a garden party at Buckingham Palace, and the Duchess is yet to emerge as something of a power player ahead of the midterm election later that year.

In late June, the former actress took part in a conversation with feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem Fashion after the horrendous lifting of abortion protections, saying, “Well, Gloria, maybe it looks like you and I will be traveling to DC together soon.”

Almost two months later, the Duchess still hasn’t shown up in the Beltway.

The bottom line is this: Harry and Meghan have proven utterly unsuccessful in asserting themselves in the corridors of power in Washington, New York, Silicon Valley or Los Angeles.

The magic dust of their nobility has largely deadened in the past two years and the novelty factor has waned. So too has their momentum in closing deals seemed to have waned, having not announced another venture since July 2021, when word broke that Harry was busy working on his memoir.

Things might be different today if the Sussexes had been producing series after Doco following one-off specials for Netflix in the past 712 days, but as we all know, that’s not the case. The company has only publicly announced two Sussex projects so far: Harry’s documentary about the sporting event for wounded service members Heart of Invictus (an amazing initiative he started years ago as a working member of the royal family) and a children’s animated series called Meghan pearl.

In early May, it was announced that Netflix was scrapping the Duchess’ show as part of a much larger cost-cutting move, with numerous high-profile projects being shelved as the streamer tightened its belt dramatically.

Later that same month, news broke that the company was about to open as page six Let’s say their “pound of flesh” of the duo with the revelation that Harry and Meghan were already filming a so-called “Home” docu-series that has a touch of shame. (Recent reports suggest Netflix wants it to air before the year is out.)

Potentially hundreds of millions of dollars are being poured into this documentary series for the self-sufficient, private jet, polo-loving Sussexes.

If the Duke and Duchess turns out to be TV gold, if they want to demonstrate they’re binge-worthy stars who can draw in streaming viewers worldwide, then their US careers are on hold. Get another polo pony! Damn, buy seven.

But if they don’t live up to the hype and rhetoric? The huge sums of money being touted, and all the fine millions that are supposedly coming their way, could dry up quicker than a Californian lake.

(And it’s not like their docuseries are likely to get much royal access, as Harry and Meghan were embarrassingly sidelined by The Firm while they were in London for the Platinum Jubilee.)

Netflix is ​​clearly a very patient company when it comes to its superstar recruits. Take Barack and Michelle Obama, who signed to Netflix and Spotify after leaving the White House.

This week, however, Harry and Meghan will break the Obamas’ success record of 716 days between announcing their Netflix deal and their first marquee project with one of them. Will, released. (And in the meantime, they had released two children’s series and produced two documentaries, one of which won an Oscar.)

Harry and Meghan may have titles and Buckingham Palace’s WiFi password, but that’s not enough for big corporations to happily pour millions into their bank accounts for a chance to work with them. You actually have to do something to prove yourself.

They can’t just hope to float here forever in the breath of a mothballed HRH.

Since that April conference call, Netflix has laid off hundreds of employees and made the drastic decision to finally introduce advertising to the platform. Can the company still afford to wear well-known stars who don’t deliver their books?

How much patience and confidence will this newly humbled Netflix have for its pending big-name hires?

The same is true here for Spotify to a certain extent.

April saw Meghan’s first appearance for the audio giant archetypes was announced, promising that a “groundbreaking” series would launch in the northern summer. Only a few weeks until the beginning of autumn the clock is ticking again.

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years’ experience working with a range of Australia’s leading media outlets.

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