The time the media world spent anticipating Oprah Winfrey‘s television network seemed much, much longer than the time it’s taken for the network to tank.
Winfrey herself took the stage at Discovery’s upfront to acknowledge OWN’s shortcomings and to promise that by the end of this year, the network will enjoy her full attention.
We believe it will — Winfrey can’t stand failure.
But that doesn’t mean potential advertisers are going to cough up cash this quarter.
In the meantime, it’s time for some radical change — and we mean “time” very literally. The network is young and at its most nimble stage.
At the same time, the window for action is closing — OWN’s ratings are worse than that of the channel it replaced, the never-watched Discovery Health Channel, at this time last year.
You've got to spend money to make money. Much of the country either still doesn't get OWN, or can't find it on their dial.
The root of the Oprah brand is, obviously, Oprah herself -- and if the numbers aren't there, she needs to up her appearances. Not when the show is over in May, not in September -- now.
Over the years, Winfrey seems to have become a little too comfortable staying within the confines of her circle of underlings: Dr. Phil, etc. There are other powerful, up-and-coming personalities in the world -- like chef Aarti Sequeira -- many of them enjoying undesirable timeslots on the Food Network, HGTV and a score of other cable channels. Winfrey should have a list of contract end dates tacked to her office door.
Rachael Ray wasn't always famous. The golden touch isn't quite working for her at OWN, but that doesn't mean she can't still produce stars overnight -- and chuck them into her lineup.
For years, millions of people watched soaps before tuning into 'Oprah.' Buying and continuing ABC's recently cancelled shows would make Winfrey a hero -- and guarantee numbers.
Cable channels are fearlessly moving into original programming -- why should OWN be any different? With Winfrey's connections, securing quality creators would be a cinch. The next 'Mad Men' is always just around the corner.
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