Not that long ago Oprah’s OWN network was struggling. After the debut of two Perry shows on OWN, the two-year-old network is now challenging Viacom’s BET for the black TV viewing audience, reports The New York Post. BET has had a foothold on African-American audiences for 30 years — up until now.
In fact, Perry’s first two shows for OWN under he and Oprah’s exclusive partnership garnered the network its best ratings since it launched to much fanfare in January 2011, reports the newspaper.
This week his The Haves and the Have Nots, a drama about a rich family from Savannah, Ga., captured 1.82 million viewers for its second episode. This is up from 1.77 million in its premiere. On top of this, the second episode of his comedy Love Thy Neighbor attracted 1.8 million, an increase from 1.65 million viewers for its debut.
These numbers are closing in on BET. BET should be worried. “Last week, OWN was the No. 2 network among African-American women ages 25 to 54 years in primetime, — behind only TNT, which was airing the NBA playoffs, according to Nielsen data. BET came in third place,” writes the Post.
And BET has been falling behind for a while. During the past 12 months, the network has lost primetime viewers while OWN has gained, found an analysis by Horizon Media research chief Brad Adgate. Looking at the numbers, BET averaged 714,000 viewers in primetime, which is down from 816,000 in the period (June 2011 through May 2012). Meanwhile, during the same period, Oprah’s average audience rose from 250,000 to 315,000.
BET is expected to earn $220.8 million in fees from cable and satellite-TV operators this year, compared to OWN’s $197.6 million, according to SNL Kagan. And, both collect around 20 cents a subscriber per month from distributors.
The Perry-Oprah team-up also marks a shift in the audience that OWN is targeting. Initially OWN was not aimed at African-American viewers. Now it seems black viewers will be OWN’s saving grace.