OWN Considers Catering to Black Audience to Boost Ratings

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It’s no secret Oprah’s OWN network has had less than stellar viewership since its launch in January, and now executives think they’ve figured out the magic answer to increasing the network’s ratings: cater to the African American Audience. Amazing right? It’s not like we watch TV more than any other segment of the population or anything.

OWN’s execs are hoping to build on the success of the show Welcome to Sweetie Pies which premiered in October. The show had an average viewership of 418,000 which is nearly double the average prime-time viewership of OWN’s network overall for the period.

“Anytime you have a program that pops like Sweetie Pies did, you start looking at what drove it,” OWN President Erik Logan told Adweek. “And we saw that the African-American audience really had a connection with that show….We’re going to look at ways to nurture and grow that.”

It may seem like more of a duh moment than an aha moment for the network to cater to African Americans, but when you think about Oprah’s typical approach, her strategy has always been to appeal to a broad audience.

“Oprah is a brand that goes far beyond the African-American market” Tuna Amobi, Senior Media and Entertainment Analyst in Standard & Poor’s U.S. Equity Research Services, says. “I don’t know that it would be a good thing for OWN to so narrowly define its target. The advertisers they would attract are different. It will be a narrower base.”

So far, we know OWN is planing to air a reality show featuring Beverly Johnson and her family in February. It will be interesting to see what other programs they think will appeal to a black audience.

What do you think about OWN’s new strategy? Should the try to cater to the black audience with their programming? Do you have any interest in watching the network?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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