Photo: (George Burns/Courtesy of Harpo Productions)
New York Magazine has a huge piece on Discovery’s new plans for Oprah’s 24-hour network, OWN.Discovery CEO David Zaslav wants her fingerprints, and her face, all over the new network. But Oprah has already told her fans that she is retiring her Oprah Winfrey Show format for good by the end of 2011.
So what does that mean for OWN?
The new network’s debut has been moved back twice. Its original creative team has all been fired or left on their own. And its roster of programming remains, at least publicly, vaguely defined. While OWN is supposed to be the vehicle for Oprah’s midlife reinvention, no one can seem to figure out yet exactly what OWN is going to be. So far, the only thing everyone agrees would be a hit on OWN is something like the old Oprah Winfrey Show. Without that, the network appears destined to fall short of expectations. And while Zaslav and Discovery seem increasingly eager to coax Oprah into a greater on-air role, Oprah appears willing to consider anything except that.
Analyst Brad Adgate, the research director for Horizon Media, the largest independent ad-buying agency in the country told the magazine that having an Oprah Winfrey-type show, which currently gets about 7 million viewers during daytime, is “more important than her name.”
“You have to see her onscreen, presumably with some sort of talk show, because that’s what she’s good at.” Not having a show like that, Adgate says, “could cost them millions in advertising revenue and cable-carrier fees. They need something unique if they’re going to be a destination network. They have to create a franchise show. They have to brand themselves. They have to give people some compelling reason to come to this channel every day.”
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