Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Huge Success in 2011!
Oprah Winfrey’s new network OWN is a huge success to kick off 2011.
Oprah is a forced to be reckoned with and I would never bet against her. When she announced that she was leaving her daily TV show at the end of the season to run her own network (called Oprah Winfrey Network or OWN) a lot of people thought it might not work out for her. She’d had mixed results with her Oxygen network, but ultimately ended up selling it for nearly $1 billion to NBC. OWN would be a creature of a different nature. With OWN she wouldn’t just be buying an existing network and running it, she would be building a new network from the ground up. OWN launched on New Year’s Day and now one week later the outlook is so positive that those involved with the project are predicting it will be bigger and grow faster than they could have expected.
Right out the gate OWN had around 1 million prime time viewers. That declined a little the next day and has dropped to a pretty steady 300,000-325,000 per night since. While there are some who will say that this represents a huge drop off and is a bad sign, Discovery Communications (they own the Discovery Channel and many associated channels and are the primary back of OWN) is so happy with the opening week numbers that they have moved their profitability time table up. As OWN started taking shape and setting out its programing schedule Discovery had predicted that the show should turn a profit in or around 2012 or 2013. They now feel that the network will be profitable before the end of this year.
Where the network struggles is when Oprah herself is not on screen. Shows in which she appears have done very well while those without her in them have struggled to some degree. Since the network is one week old and still pulling together its programming, it remains to be see exactly what all they have planned for the network in terms of shows. The idea is that as the network grows and develops new non-Oprah based shows those shows will find an audience.
The launch has not been without its detractors. There are many long time Oprah fans who are angry because OWN does not appear as a channel in their cable companies basic package. This means they will have to pay extra to get the channel. Depending on your cable company that could be as little as a few dollars or it could be as much as an additional $20 per month based on how they have the pricing structure laid out. There are also other fans that don’t have cable TV at all who will not be able to see anything on the network. Those who are most angry site that many of Discovery’s channels are part of the standard basic cable package offered by most companies, but now they want subscribers to pay more to get access to Oprah. There are suggestions that Oprah Winfrey fans get together and petition/demand that the channel be put in the basic cable package.
A move to basic cable would help Oprah all the more. She currently makes money several ways from the network. One is through advertising on the shows and another is through the basic licensing fee she gets for allowing the cable companies to use the network. That fee could go up if she is moved to basic cable as could her ad revenue because her channel would be exposed to many more potential viewers.
After one week OWN is off to a good start. They have a lot of work ahead of them, but I have a feeling it will really begin to show its potential once Oprah’s show is off the air. Right now you can get your Oprah fix every afternoon on broadcast TV. When that is gone there is going to be only one place you can find her and I have a feeling her fans will be making the switch and flocking to OWN.
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