Oprah Winfrey’s new cable network is having some early growing pains.
After exploding out of the gate in the ratings (and on a Saturday, no less), viewership for OWN has declined significantly.
While OWN’s premiere averaged 1 million primetime viewers last weekend, Sunday dropped to 822,000. Monday fell to 394,000, followed by Tuesday hitting 315,000. In the network’s target of women 25-54, OWN went from an opening night rating of 0.6 to a 0.2 at the start of the week.
Compared to other women’s networks, OWN was still remarkably competitive, though entrenched rivals like Oxygen and WE have mostly closed the gap (with Lifetime remaining out in front).
After heavy curiosity-driven tune-in, such a steep decline isn’t really all that surprising. Cable network have historically launched soft and quiet, gathering viewers and content gradually over a period of years. It’s OWN’s strong debut that remains truly unusual here, and proves there’s plenty of viewer interest in the channel.
OWN CEO Christina Norman points out that the network is just getting started, and on its way to its goal of 600 hours of original programming.
“Launch is only the beginning for us,” she says. “Our goal was to double Discovery Health Channel’s ratings and move from a network ranked in the 40s to a network ranked in the 20s. So far we’re meeting those figures.”
Stay tuned, Oprah is about to take the stage at TCA press tour and face a roomful of critics. Should be interesting…
UPDATE: Things picked up slightly for OWN on Wednesday, drawing 389,000.