Oprah has owned a successful talk show, a book club, and a magazine, so why not her own TV network? Launched in early 2011, The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) hopes to become a leading player in lifestyle television on cable and satellite systems. It offers a schedule with a heavy emphasis on unscripted programming, talk shows, and other content focused on self-help and inspirational stories. In addition to its TV channel, the company distributes digital content online. Available in more than 80 million homes, OWN was formed in 2008 as a joint venture between Oprah Winfrey's production company Harpo and cable programmer Discovery Communications.
Discovery and Harpo hope the new network will become an instant sensation by building on Oprah's popularity. Her daytime talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, was the most successful syndicated program in history with a daily audience of more than 6 million viewers. (It aired its last episode on May 25, 2011 after 25 years and more than 4,500 episodes.) OWN will generate revenue primarily through advertising and carriage fees paid by cable system operators. Replacing the Discovery Health Channel, it hopes to reach about 70 million US homes.
The network continues to work on development plans for its programming. Among the shows announced include unscripted series Kid-napped, which focuses on children and their workaholic parents, and Miracle Detectives, a program devoted to spiritual belief and skepticism. Oprah herself continues to produce her daytime show for syndication, and OWN documented the final months of the long-running program in a weekly show called Behind the Scenes: Oprah's 25th Season.
OWN is only the latest addition to Winfrey's already formidable media empire that includes O, The Oprah Magazine (published in partnership with Hearst Magazines), movie and TV productions, and talk shows hosted by Rachel Ray and Dr. Phil McGraw. OWN will be Winfrey's second go-around with a cable TV network. She was an early investor in women's network Oxygen, which was sold to NBC Universal in 2007 for $875 million. – less