And so it begins: OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, officially launched at noon ET (9 a.m. here) with a special pre-taped hour on the channel’s new programming. Winfrey, in a Chicago studio decked out completely in white, introduced viewers to fare such as “Your Own Show,” “Master Class” and “In the Bedroom.” She also introduced viewers to charter advertisers, including blue chip entries such as P&G and Walmart.
It’s been years since the launch of a new network came with so much fanfare. (Perhaps Spike TV?) And it’s also been years since a channel launched with so much original fare. But OWN has been three years in the making, and has gone through enough twists and turns that Winfrey and CEO Christina Norman have had time to hone in on their strategy.
Will it work? Too soon to tell at the moment. Some series, including “Your Own Show,” appear tailor-made for the edgier Bravo crowd. And as EW noted, the choice of first show was a little bizarre: “Kidnapped by the Kids.” Meanwhile, some entries, like Winfrey’s own “Master Class,” seem just a bit too earnest to become must-see TV. But Winfrey and her loyal audience shouldn’t be counted out.
The team behind OWN celebrated the channel’s launch this morning via a party at OWN’s Miracle Mile headquarters (coincidentally, in Variety’s former digs. For the record, OWN’s offices are nicer, with more flat screen TVs everywhere).
New OWN star Suze Orman took and Tweeted the photo above of Winfrey and longtime pal Stedman Graham at the party (above) and of Norman and OWN consultant Tom Freston (below).