Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network announced today that it has struck an exclusive, multi-year deal with Tyler Perry, making it the mogul’s “singular destination for all new television series and products.” These series include two original scripted shows – the first such programs on OWN – which will premiere in 2013. Both shows will be executive produced, written, and directed by Perry.
Though Perry is best known for his films, the multi-hyphenate first branched out into TV in 2007. His TBS sitcoms Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, Meet the Browns, and For Better Or Worse have been wildly successful; upon premiering, the first two each garnered the top cable comedy debut ratings of all time.
“I have been looking forward to the day when we would be in the position to enter the world of scripted television. That day has come,” Winfrey, said in a statement.
“We are all energized by the opportunity to collaborate with Tyler who has a proven track record for producing highly successful cable series. He has an incredible ability to illuminate life stories and characters in his unique voice and inspires and encourages people all over the world.”
“It’s a dream realized to partner with Oprah and bring scripted programming to OWN,” Perry added. “She has accomplished so much with the network and I’m excited to work with her to be a part of its continued growth.”
This alliance could be just what OWN needs to bolster its long-term survival odds. The network struggled in the ratings after its January 2011 debut, burning through at least $300 million during its first 15 months of existence and facing setbacks like the cancellation of Rosie O’Donnell’s Rosie Show. (“Had I known that it was this difficult, I might have done something else,” Winfrey mused in April of this year.)
But thanks to the popularity of flagship show Oprah’s Next Chapter and a renewed focus on Winfrey herself, the fledgling network has been improving over the past few months. OWN reports that it saw triple-digit ratings growth in September, as well as gains in primetime and demographic ratings for the third consecutive quarter. With Perry on board, those numbers are bound to get even higher – especially if his shows feature explosive, tell-all interviews with Rihanna.