The Oprah Winfrey Network: January 2010 Archives

Martha! Another daytime host moves to cable

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Oprah will soon shutter her syndicated daytime talk show and move to her own cable network (now with a new tagline). Another famous (and infamous) daytime talk queen will soon also move to cable.

Martha Stewart announced this morning she has signed a deal to move "The Martha Stewart Show" to the Hallmark Channel, effective this September.

And though Stewart isn't getting her own entire cable channel, she is carving out her own slice of Hallmark: After Stewart's show, Hallmark will air 90 minutes of programming created by Stewart's production company.

This analysis from the L.A. Times:

For Hallmark, which has built a strong audience in the 25-54 demographic with its movies, landing Stewart is a high-profile move that it hopes will broaden its appeal. While the channel gets decent ratings, it is not as strong in urban and wealthy markets as it is elsewhere. Stewart caters to an upscale audience that the channel hopes will translate to stronger advertising dollars.

Hmmm. I have one word for Miss Martha: Copycat!

'It's your life ... own it!'

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That's going to be the tagline for Oprah's new cable network, OWN.

And remember: it's not called the Oprah channel.

"This network is not called Oprah, it's called OWN -- it's about owning your challenges, your relationships, and moving forward in a positive way," said Discovery networks leader David Zaslav, in a brief Q&A session Monday during a convention for the National Association of Television Program Executives. The OWN network will be part of the Discovery group.

"There is nobody that's in this Oprah space, the 'Live Your Best Life tools for your life' space," he said. "Oprah is not just a great brand, but she's a great creative, she's incredible at finding talent, and she's a great talent for this mission, which is really her mission in life."

That's just a tease. Details about OWN's programming are tightly protected and likely won't be revealed until this spring.

How much will Oprah OWN her new cable channel?

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How involved will Oprah be in her new cable TV channel, the Oprah Winfrey Network? Will she mostly be behind the scenes, calling the shots and making programming decisions? Or will she be on screen, hosting a show or appearing on others' shows?

That's a question mulled lightly by fans but quite seriously right now by the television executives at the Discovery Channel. OWN will go live in 2011 via the existing cable channel Discovery Health. And the Wall Street Journal reports this week that Discovery execs are talking to Oprah, trying to get an answer to those questions.

The level of Oprah's involvement, no surprise, likely will be directly proportionate to the success (at least initially) of the new channel. That's the big bet Oprah is making, anyway: that her mega-popularity via one daytime talk show can transition to an entire 24/7 cable network.

WSJ reports: "At an investor conference in San Francisco, [Brad Singer, chief financial officer with Discovery Communications Inc.] identified OWN as one of the company's most promising growth opportunities, but he said the key question of how much Winfrey herself will actually appear on the network is still being negotiated."

Oprah has a 50 percent stake in the new channel, so she has a big incentive to see it financially successful.

Part of that financial success might hinge on how much money the new channel can command from cable TV providers, like Comcast. If the Oprah Effect makes OWN more valuable than Discovery Health has been -- and it's hard to imagine that won't happen -- then Discovery can make providers pay more to include it in their lineups. Currently, for instance, providers pull 12 cents from each subscriber to "buy" the Discovery Health channel; The New York Times reports that OWN, with Oprah behind it, could command as much as 50 cents.

Translation: Oprah's helping to jack up your cable bill.

In the meantime, the question remains whether Oprah plans only to pull the strings on the new channel or to float through its programming with shows of her own, infomercials, guest appearances, what have you.

What would YOU like to see Oprah do on her new network?


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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the The Oprah Winfrey Network category from January 2010.

The Oprah Winfrey Network: November 2009 is the previous archive.

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