After calling OWN a mistake during an interview, Oprah continues to feel the heat of her failing network. After her 25th season of The Oprah Show ended, Oprah began her next career venture that she had been planning for months. Her network OWN promised to give her audience quality television unlike most of the major networks that are on air now. But, OWN isn’t living up to it’s dream.
From its 2008 inception through Dec. 31, OWN may have lost as much as $330 million, based on Discovery’s annual 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Even if OWN makes money in 2013, as predicted by a person with knowledge of the operation who was not authorized to speak publicly, it has saddled Discovery with such high costs that analysts say the company may eventually be forced to write off some of its current $420 million investment.
OWN debuted in over 77 million homes on January 1, 2011, but its initial ratings were surprisingly lackluster given its imprimatur as “Oprah’s network,” averaging just 308,000 daily viewers in primetime in its first three months on air, according to Nielsen (NLSN). OWN’s ratings rose 5.8 percent in the first quarter of 2012, to 326,000. Oprah’s Next Chapter, a program in which the talk diva interviews and interacts with guests in a format more like a news program, averaged 393,000 viewers in the most recent quarter, according to Nielsen. The channel is now available in more than 85 million households, 10 percent more than at its debut.
Marketers are still enamored of Winfrey and will give the network more leeway than they would others, says Brad Adgate, head of research at media-buying firm Horizon Media. “Advertisers still want to be a part of Oprah’s brand,” Adgate says, adding that Discovery could bundle OWN buys with its other networks. “It’s not a four-alarm fire yet as far as marketers go,” he says.
When starting a network, media companies typically lure advertisers after building an audience. OWN drew high-profile advertisers such as Procter & Gamble (PG)and Kohl’s (KSS) first. “Now they’re trying to build an audience,” Bank says. “Advertisers will only wait so long for that audience to come.”
Auntie O really just needs to sit down and reevaluate her market. She needs to create programming that will entertain a different market throughout the day. Her market of working/stay-at-home/single mothers are busy during the morning and more than likely sleep at night. Their programming should go back to daytime and Oprah needs to incorporate suitable programming for late night and early morning. It’s all a matter of breaking down the day and adjusting her network to those specific times. I know Oprah wants quality television, but she may have to make some sacrifices or lose her fortune.
What do you think?