All Articles Tagged "saving the OWN Network"
By Mame Kwayie
Scan recent media headlines about Oprah Winfrey and her eponymous Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), and you’ll find chatter about dismal ratings, a reported $300 million dollar loss, staff layoffs and even her own second thoughts about taking on the endeavor that took over the Discovery Health Channel on Jan. 1, 2011 (“If I knew then what I know now, I might have made different choices,” she told CBS News in April). To many, it appeared that when Winfrey stepped off her daytime television throne in 2011, ending “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and its groundbreaking 25-year run, she stepped into her last ride. But there are a few reasons why media watchers and viewers should not count her out just yet.
1. Her Interview Game is Still On Point.
The Oprah Winfrey Show may have ended over a year ago, but not only does she still know how to ask the questions, she still reels in big names – and growing ratings. Parts one and two of Winfrey’s chat with the Kardashians, the most recent episode of the interview series “Oprah’s Next Chapter” (which airs Sundays nights on OWN), brought in 1.1 million and 1.2 million viewers respectively. Big numbers, but 2.4 million viewers shy of OWN’s biggest boon yet: Winfrey’s March interview with the late Whitney Houston’s daughter, brother and sister-in-law.
Winfrey maintains her prowess for securing a variety of high-profile subjects for a sit-down. Not only are Winfrey’s “Next Chapter” interviews major coups for her fledgling network, but many are still clamoring for the opportunity to sit face-to-face with the media tycoon. In a story with the Associated Press, OWN President Sheri Salata acknowledges that there are opportunities abound for those with stories to tell. “That really does keep us in the game with all the big interviews,” Salata said.
This Sunday, Winfrey is meeting with the Miami Heat’s NBA title-winning trifecta of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James, and in August, she’s visiting with controversial pop star Rihanna.
2. Her Generosity is Still Paramount.
Admittedly, I usually watched Winfrey’s yearly “Favorite Things” holiday giveaway to see unsuspecting audience members go ham at the prospect of getting Panini makers. But Winfrey has proven that giving is not just the stuff of daytime talk show shtick. It is reported that when a Los Angeles English teacher tweeted the media maven about her inner-city students’ need for prom dresses, Winfrey worked her maven magic, enlisting Macy’s in donating formal gowns for all 25 of the educator’s female students. The department store transported the girls to the shopping spree via chartered bus and provided breakfast, lunch, and even stylists.
3. Her Endorsement Still Sells Books.
Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, which was announced in June, accommodates the way readers read in the age of Web 2.0: with e-readers, tablets and other mobile devices. Where she would devote an episode or two of her talk show to facilitating conversations between authors and audience members, she’s now using the likes of social media to engage readers in loving and discussing books again.
“I love this book so much and want to talk about it so much, I knew I had to reinvent my book club,” Winfrey writes in the July 2010 issue of O: The Oprah Magazine. The book? Wild, Cheryl Strayed’s memoir about a treacherous hike through the Pacific Crest Trail. Winfrey launched the original book club in 1996, inciting readers across the country to propel such titles as Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth and the James Frey’s not-so-non-fiction A Million Little Pieces into best-seller status. The book club ushered the concept of “The Oprah Effect,” Winfrey’s propensity to spur viewers to turn written works into profitable literary gold. Winfrey’s Midas touch later did the same for cakes, Carol’s Daughter beauty products and possibly President Barack Obama (before he was the president of course).
And it seems that tech-savvy readers are indeed wild about Winfrey’s latest pick: Wild recently hit number one on the New York Times’ bestseller list for non-fiction e-books.
4. Her Shows Still Win Emmys.
While beleaguered in the press, OWN is making shelf space for its first Emmy Award. “Super Soul Sunday,” the network’s Sunday morning mix of spiritual programming on happiness, enlightenment and well-being, received a Daytime Emmy this month for Outstanding Special Class series. The series, during which Winfrey chats with the likes of Deepak Chopra, T.D. Jakes and Wayne Dyer, “is the reason Oprah wanted to create this platform,” OWN president Salata said in a statement. “We are thrilled that our first Emmy is for this show.”
5. Her Magazine Wins Awards, Too.
The team at O: The Oprah Magazine recently picked up recognition from the American Society of Magazine Editors for General Excellence in Women’s Magazines. In case you didn’t know, Winfrey’s name is on the masthead of the magazine bearing her name and cover image as its founder and editorial director. The publication, which aligns with Winfrey’s “live your best life” branding mantra, was launched in 2000.
To (wo)man the helm of a media empire is not easy, and Winfrey, who once compared the building of OWN to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, has proven no shrinking violet in the face of a challenge.
“Just because you fail doesn’t make you a failure,” Winfrey told CBS News. “When you know that in the core of yourself, you can keep trying or you can use whatever is happening in that moment to say, ‘Maybe I need to move in a new direction.’”
And perhaps the greatest reason why Oprah Winfrey continues to win is that she is her own best example.
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