Is the Oprah Winfrey Network a Failure Already? Some are Trying to Say that it Is

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University – Scholarship in Action 

 

I’m not sure if this is the right time to pass judgment on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), since it just began.  But Alexis Stodghill at AOL Black Voices, the New York Times and others are beginning to wonder if the magic is going to last.   According to the Times:

OWN, her two-month-old channel, is attracting fewer viewers than the obscure channel it replaced, Discovery Health. At any given time this month, there have been about 135,000 people watching OWN, according to the Nielsen Company, and only about 45,000 of those people are women ages 25 to 54, the demographic that the channel is focusing on.

Those ratings levels, down about 10 percent from Discovery Health’s levels last year, are being carefully watched by people who would like to rebuild cable channels around other celebrities, and by investors who worry that OWN is a drag on Discovery’s stock.

I fully expect that at some point, Oprah’s presence on the network will draw viewers.  There is no reason to think that she won’t have an impact.  At the same time, even the best product won’t sell if it is in an obscure location.  Oprah is not a commodity that would be deemed irreplaceable, so we cannot underemphasize the impact her previous network (ABC) had on her ability to pull in the viewers.  It’s one thing to have a great show, and another thing to be able to tell the world all about it.

Another problem that the network may have is that they can’t feature all-Oprah, all the time.  The fans that have come to love Oprah and everything she says may not be so interested in seeing the other folks on her network.  At the same time, there is no King/Queen-maker like Oprah Winfrey, who has produced Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Suzie Orman, and many other household names over the years.  She even made Barack Obama into a somebody. 

I don’t expect Oprah’s new network to fail, but what must be remembered is that there are varying measures of success for a network.  Most importantly will be whether or not Oprah’s team makes a strong enough profit to satisfy shareholders.  It’s entirely unrealistic to expect that they will have the same size audience that Oprah had on network television, but even if Oprah’s power shrinks, it will be the size of the company’s profit margin that makes all the difference.

Dr. Boyce watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, “Black American Money.”  To have Dr. Boyce Watkins articles delivered to your email, please click here.

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20 responses to “Is the Oprah Winfrey Network a Failure Already? Some are Trying to Say that it Is

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  15. AntBee

    Once again, Dr. Watkins, you have managed to write about another black person and failure.

    From all the important issues and problems black folks have, is this all you can manage to write about?

    Your seemingly endless foolish comments/blogs that are intended to “rile” up the Negors is worthless.

    Please compose blogs with something that is helpful to others IF that is indeed your intent.

    Lastly, you comment “She even made Barack Obama into a somebody. ” makes you appear to be a fool!

    Barack Obama and his wife made our President a “somebody”, and he was a somebody before you ever tossed your hat into the ring.

    Stop depending on ignorant black folk to keep you alive!

  16. Marie

    I do know that once the network launched Comcast charged an additional $10 to view the channel. Although the programs looked great and a hugh Oprah fan I was not prepared to pay an additional fee for this channel. With all of the promotion she did before the launch and asking for support never once did she mention this.

  17. I think there is more involved with “OWN” than most of us realize. This is not even a viable Station. It’s mostly just a group of programs produced on Broadcast TV that have been transferred to this Station, Dr OZ, Dr Phil, etc. Is Gale’s Show the same Show that was introduced a few years ago, and failed? I don’t think this is a real Station, it appears as if it’s just a dumping ground. The Original Programming don’t seem to have any substance. plus the fact they introduced it on the second tier Cable that requires an additional fee. In other words it’s not even on basic Cable.

    This deal is suppose to be a partnership with Discover, with Discover suppling all the funding, but it seems as if they would have came in with a few quality original programs, but not a Master Class, and some of the others. I’m just making comments from what I see from the schedule in the TV Guide. I don’t get OWN, I won’t pay for something like that, there are too many Stations on Cable with low quality programming. I think some are paying for this stuff to say they have it, not me. I think a lot of these Cable Chanels are going to drop like flies. There are too many station with no quality programming.

  18. kim

    I want Oprah to succeed, but this network is sadly lacking. I am surprised.

  19. 2,500 cyclist can save the Oprah Winfrey Network ratings.

    The Oprah Winfrey Show, the O.W.N. Channel, and the Oprah’s Lifeclass focus on encouraging people around the world to live their “Own Best Life” (with vision & focus)) while simultaneously making a difference in the lives of underprivileged others.

    Through Oprah’s involvement with the Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, the tiny town of Williamson, West Virginia, and the “A Secret Sex World: Living on the Downlow” segment, Oprah Winfrey, and the has both removed stigmas & flattened ignorance associated with the AIDS Pandemic.

    In June 2012, I, Tony Eason, (and 2,500 of my best friends) will cycle 575 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the fight against the AIDS Pandemic. And as we ride past the home of Oprah Winfrey, I invite the Oprah Winfrey Network to participate (in any way that they can).

    The presence of Oprah Winfrey at the AIDSLifecycle 2012 Closing Ceremonies would not only fuel the hearts of the 2,500 cycling philanthropists & 400 volunteer crew members – it would present a platform to continue promoting self empowerment; flattening ignorance; and providing education as a prominent African American Woman in the African American Community,

    I know:
    1. It takes a village to raise a child,
    2. You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.
    3. The best way to teach is by example.

    And as I prepare & train for my 15th Journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles, I know I’m doing the right thing.

    Check out the Tony Eason story: http://ynottony.com/newsletter.htm

    Check out the Oprah Winfrey Video Invitation:

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