Oprah Winfrey is creating her own network: OWN (The Oprah Winfrey Network). Discovery Communications, which announced the launch of the network today in New York, claimed that OWN is the biggest idea since the creation of MTV in the 1980s. That’s probably a little hyperbolic, but The Big O having her own channel is still pretty huge, and her network could cause major shifts in the TV landscape when it goes live early next year.
Winfrey, 55, has dominated the daytime talk show genre for decades and her magazine, O, has been a publishing juggernaut. Both appeal primarily to women, and OWN looks to be going after that same coveted demographic, with shows that fall into categories like Best Life All Stars, Best Life Experiences, and Best Life Inspiration. Winfrey has made billions of dollars, literally, by creating content that makes viewers/readers feel good about themselves and the world. That could be even more appealing now. In a crushing recession economy, it’s fair to say that a lot of American women (and men) are looking for just about anything that will boost their spirits. (There’s a reason that ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has been such a ratings hit, and it’s not just because Ty Pennington is cute.)
It’s way too early to predict the future – and we haven’t seen the shows yet – but if millions of American women begin flocking to OWN, we could see other networks loading up their slates with “inspirational” shows to try and compete. And that, PopWatchers, could turn a huge chunk of what we see on television away from the violent and dark, and toward the beautiful and light. So what do you think? Are you optimistic about Oprah’s network? Or is all this Oprah-fication just too much of a good thing?