You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Winfrey talks up OWN launch

Says the gamble on cabler is 'worth the risk'

Oprah Winfrey admits there may be some rocky times ahead for her new cabler.

But OWN already pulled off its first challenge: attracting audiences to its New Year’s Day launch. Even if OWN’s ratings are now settling back down to earth, Winfrey and channel CEO Christina Norman touted what they called an “incredibly strong start overall.”

“My expectation was just getting people to find it,” Winfrey told reporters at OWN’s portion of the TV Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena on Thursday. “It surpassed expectations for me.”

Norman noted that 13 million viewers sampled OWN between the channel’s Saturday, Jan. 1, launch and Monday, Jan. 3. She said OWN is so far meeting its ratings target of regularly doubling the perf of channel predecessor Discovery Health. So far, according to Norman, OWN has moved from Discovery Health’s rank below the 40 top-rated basic cable nets to being ranked No. 17 in primetime and No. 24 in total day ratings.

Exec said OWN is also on track to achieve its goal of producing 600 hours of original fare and acquiring an additional 600 hours of programming by the end of 2011.

“Our responsibility is to keep people aware, and keeping people engaged in our channel, but we can do that,” Winfrey said. “Specifically because I believe that people want it.”

Winfrey said she wasn’t concerned about early ratings — and that she may even opt to keep low-rated programs on if she believes in them. It’s her channel, after all. “Obviously the ratings are important, numbers are important — not as important to me as they are to you,” Winfrey told scribes. “We know if we continue to build the channel with programming that’s meaningful to the viewers (they’ll come)… I’m grateful the first phase of what we wanted to accomplish actually happened. I’m grateful we weren’t embarrassed and that people came.”

She said she believed that even if OWN ultimately doesn’t work that it “was worth the risk.”

Winfrey briefly alluded to the early challenges in launching OWN, including the “people coming and going and then finding the right person for the right seat on the bus of OWN.”

But she spent most of her session describing her life’s journey, starting as a young girl in Mississippi whose grandmother’s biggest wish was that Winfrey find a nice white family to work for.”This has been a revelatory week for me,” she said. “It was not actually until we were on the air that I fully started to grasp what it means to have a network where you are the ‘OW’ of ‘OWN,’ and what that really means,” she said.

In its one new announcement Thursday, OWN picked up “Money Class,” hosted by financial adviser and TV personality Suze Orman. Series, which follows Orman as she helps families set financial goals, will air this fall.

Radical Media is behind the show; Orman already appears on OWN’s “Ask Oprah’s All Stars” and will be a guest judge on “Your OWN Show.”

More TV

  • Lilly Burns Tony Hernandez

    Variety to Honor Jax Media Chiefs Tony Hernandez, Lilly Burns at New Leaders Event

    Emmy Award-winning producer Tony Hernandez and Emmy-nominated producer Lilly Burns will receive the Creative Leadership Award on behalf of Jax Media at the Variety New Leaders event presented by City National Bank, taking place Nov. 14 in New York City. As founders of Jax Media, Hernandez and Burns have produced shows and specials such as [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Virginia Leith, Female Lead in Stanley Kubrick's First Film, Dies at 94

    Actress and model Virginia Leith, who starred in Stanley Kubrick’s first film “Fear and Desire,” which he later disavowed, has died. She was 94. According to family spokesperson Jane Chalmers, Leith died after a brief illness at her home in Palm Springs, Calif. on Nov. 4. Born on Oct. 15, 1925, Leith met Kubrick in [...]

  • Friends

    'Friends' Reunion Special in Early Planning Stages at HBO Max

    More “Friends” could well be there for you when the HBO Max rain starts to fall. An unscripted “Friends” reunion special is in the works at the forthcoming WarnerMedia streamer, Variety has confirmed with sources. Sources say original cast members Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer are in discussions [...]

  • TC3_SM_060718_238A4600.cr2

    'The Crown' New Season: Netflix to Offer Opening Episode for Free in the U.K.

    When Olivia Colman steps into the royal shoes of Queen Elizabeth II, viewers in the U.K. and Ireland will be able to watch for free as Netflix makes the eagerly awaited Season 3 curtain-raiser available gratis. The streaming giant will launch the series opener on a dedicated site for a limited period starting Sunday, making it [...]

  • T.R. Knight

    TV News Roundup: T.R. Knight Joins HBO Max's 'The Flight Attendant'

    In today’s TV news roundup, “Grey’s Anatomy” star T.R. Knight joins HBO Max’s “The Flight Attendant” and BET renewed “Games People Play.” CASTING T.R Knight has been cast in HBO Max‘s dark comedy “The Flight Attendant.“ Knight will play Cassie’s (Kaley Cuoco) older brother, Davey. When Cassie’s life starts to unravel, Davey deals with the [...]

  • Days of Our Lives Bill Hayes

    'Days of Our Lives' Cast Members Released From Contracts

    The entire cast of the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives” have been released from their contracts, Variety has confirmed. The daytime drama has run for over 13,000 episodes since first debuting in 1965. The show will go on hiatus at the end of November, though it has shot enough episodes to last through the [...]

  • Live+7 Ratings Week of Oct. 28:

    Live+7 Ratings for Week of Oct. 28: ‘This Is Us,' 'Grey's Anatomy' Double

    “This Is Us” and “Grey’s Anatomy” were among the biggest TV ratings growers for the week of Oct. 28. Both the NBC drama and the ABC medical show doubled their ratings after seven days of delayed viewing, with the former ending up on a 2.8 among adults 18-49 (the highest rating for a non-football show [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content