Hollywood Insider

OWN Puts a Renewed Emphasis on Oprah Winfrey

After a flailing flagship season, the network turns back to its forebear, who also happens to be its highest ratings earner

In an unusually candid moment talking about her fledgling network, OWN, Oprah Winfrey told CBS This Morning on April 2 that had she known it would be so difficult building an audience on cable, she would have done something else after wrapping her talk show. ''I didn't think it was going to be easy,'' she told Charlie Rose and Gayle King. ''If I knew then what I know now, I might have made some different choices.'' It's no wonder the former Queen of Daytime is engaging in a little Monday-morning quarterbacking: OWN, which launched in January 2011, has already burned through more than $300 million and could lose another $142.9 million over the next year, according to analysts at SNL Kagan. Given that the only programming that seems to be working features O herself (the network's highest-rated show, Oprah's Next Chapter, averages 1.1 million viewers), OWN's strategy for year 2 is simple: more airtime for the queen bee. Besides Next Chapter and Oprah's Lifeclass, Winfrey will appear in episodes of the restaurant reality show Welcome to Sweetie Pie's and the upcoming dating show Lovetown, USA, as well as the Super Soul Sunday programming block and various specials like her Master Class series. ''We feel good about where we are,'' says OWN president Erik Logan, who acknowledges that the network suffered while Winfrey finished her talk show last year. ''Job one has been to get everything on the network more on brand.'' Next step? Persuading advertisers to stay on board with new shows like Iyanla Fix My Life and Married to the Army: Alaska, because not every program will feature the boss. ''In order to continue building, we can't have it be Oprah all the time,'' Logan says. ''The recipe is taking her brand and making sure you feel that across a number of shows.''

Originally posted Apr 06, 2012 Published in issue #1202 Apr 13, 2012 Order article reprints
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