Oprah’s OWN Network Is Finally Coming Into Its Own

September 4, 2013  |  

Not only is Oprah Winfrey enjoying the success of the film The Butler,  but she is having a resurrection of sorts on TV. Her OWN network is finally on the upswing, after years of experts wondering about its viability.

This is thanks in large part to Tyler Perry and his sitcoms for the network — and Winfrey knows it. “OWN is in the black for the first time since its rocky start two-and-a-half years ago. More than 30 new advertisers are joining original heavyweight sponsors Procter & Gamble and General Electric, and are paying higher rates as the channel has found its programming and distribution footing,” report AP (via The Grio).

And Winfrey is happy about the turnaround. She told AP that her experience at OWN (The Oprah Winfrey Network) is now “rewarding,” both as the chairwoman and CEO developing the channel and as a viewer attraction as she hosts several series including Oprah’s Next Chapter and Oprah’s Lifeclass. And the network is on a roll with shows that have clicked with audiences, including motivational speaker Iyanla Vanzant’s Iyanla Fix My Life and and the newly announced reality show Crazy.Hot.Life. The network also has fresh-out-of-rehab Lindsay Lohan in an eight-part docu-series based on her life. (Although Winfrey one-on-one with Lohan was one of OWN’s lowest-rated offerings recently.)

“I no longer have such fear and anxiety about it. I really have more confidence in my decisions,” Winfrey told AP. “In the beginning, I was in a lot of meetings where people said, ‘You don’t understand cable.’ … I’d say, ‘But I do understand the audience. Aren’t people the same?’”

And now she has the numbers to back her up.

Viewership has increased by 22 percent among the target audience of adult women and 23 percent among all viewers compared to last year, according to Nielsen Co. “In the third quarter, prime-time viewership among women 25 to 54 and total viewers each are up more than 60 percent compared to 2012,” reports AP.

And last month, OWN drew a channel-high 536,000 prime-time viewers. While this is just a fraction of the millions of viewers who tuned into Winfrey’s talk show, it is respectable for an up-and-coming cable channel.

The climb up started when OWN got major ratings and publicity boosts from Winfrey’s interviews with Whitney Houston’s daughter and Lance Armstrong. More than three million people watched Bobbi Kristina Brown talk about the late Houston in March 2012.

Then, of course, there is the Perry deal to bring shows including The Haves and the Have Nots and Love They Neighbor, all of which have been hits. And such shows had lured in more African-American viewers, who have discovered the network first and are now a vital of OWN’s current and future success, both Logan and Winfrey acknowledge. But “all are welcome,” added Winfrey.

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