Advanced Television

Oprah struggles with OWN channel

March 21, 2012

By Chris Forrester

Oprah Winfrey, not for the first time, is discovering that having your name above the station’s door is no guarantee of success. Her Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has been on air in the US since the start of last year, but losses continue.  Winfrey assumed the CEO and Chief Creative Officer role last summer.

She has this week cut 30 jobs from show’s manifest, about 20 percent of the workforce, in an attempt to trim costs and move towards profitability. Last week OWN dumped the Rosie O’Donnell Show, part of the cuts that seek to reverse reported losses of more than $250 million.

OWN is co-owned by Winfrey and Discovery Communications.

The pair are discovering that translating Oprah’s typical daily audience on network TV of many millions (her Michael Jackson network interview brought in 36 million viewers) is a great deal tougher in cable TV. Her interview with Whitney Houston’s daughter earlier this month brought in just 3.5 million. No matter how strong the brand, it is difficult to survive such a major cut in exposure and distribution.

However, when in front of the camera herself the channel’s ratings climb. Her own show, Oprah’s Next Chapter, launched in January, is doing well.


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