It’s often said she has the Midas touch turning anything into gold. Yet, her biggest venture only a year old has already seen its fair of gloomy days. The excitement of OWN soon cooled off once the channel was available, and the reality was empty programming and not enough Oprah. The network is just now starting to get it and that’s why Oprah’s OWN will survive.
The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) is a platform intended on expanding Oprah’s lifelong mission of empowerment and encouraging the world to “live its best life.” This was wonderful and exciting for Oprah fans because of her daytime talk show ending, so there was much anticipation. OWN was launched on January 1, 2011 and was off to a promising start.
Then the unexpected happened.
Ratings dropped. And they dropped fast. Her dedicated fan base began leaving OWN in the dust with other unwatched cable channels. Before the channel even launched, the executive shuffle was in full effect. In 2008, OWN’s President Robin Schwartz left. The CMO (chief marketing officer) decided to resign in 2010. Once the network launched, 6 months later CEO Christina Norman was out. Oprah became the CEO and CCO a couple of months after Norman left. The Oprah Winfrey Network was in disarray.
Oprah decided to take things into her OWN hands. With committing a minimum of 70 hours a year to her network, shows like Oprah’s Next Chapter and Oprah’s Lifeclass began. Her visibility on the network will definitely lead to OWN’s survival. Oprah has built a brand around herself and her presence is needed on OWN. Oprah’s Next Chapter premiered just this month with over a million viewers, giving record ratings since the launch of OWN.
Sweetie Pie’s, a thriving reality show about a former “Ikette” Robin Montgomery and her family run restaurant, began to shift OWN’s focus. Realizing the success of the show was because of African American viewers, the network’s light bulb went off. Aim for the Black audience. This idea of targeting African Americans will contribute to the young channel’s success and shows like Sweetie Pie’s will flourish.
Let’s face it, Oprah may have bitten off a little more than she could chew. Yes, even Oprah can admit when something is difficult for her. She told Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in an interview, “It’s a lot harder than I ever imagined. If anybody asks if you want a network, think about that.” While Oprah may have felt overwhelmed, her drive and tenacity will ultimately keep OWN afloat.
words by: @valeryeg