You will be redirected back to your article in seconds
Back to IndieWire

OWN Network Deep In The Red

OWN Network Deep In The Red

Anyone who’s ever done it before can tell you that it’s not easy or cheap to start a TV network (ask His Satanic Majesty Rupert Murdoch). It takes time, luck, money – lots and lots and lots of it – before you find shows that click with an audience; and that is if you’re very lucky.

In other words, Oprah Winfrey is finding out that having a hit show is one thing, but a hit network is something else completely different.

Yesterday Discovery Communications released its thrid quarter earnings report, and despite an overall increase in revenue, they made it clear that their Oprah Winfrey Network is a financial drag on the company.

So far OWN is in the red, to the tune of $55.6 million, and Discovery admitted that the network is still struggling to find viewers. So far, the new shows listed to the lineup – the Rosie O’Donnell talk show and Oprah’s Lifeclass – have had “sluggish starts” and haven’t been the audience pullers that they were hoped to be.

For 2011, Discovery reported operating expenses for OWN of nearly $160 million, compared to total revenue of $104 million. However Discovery CEO David Zaslav said that he’s sure “OWN’s fortunes will improve now that Winfrey is serving as full-time CEO.”

Well, that has yet to be proven.

Zaslav also added that: “We are working hard to develop content that will appeal to her audience. We are building some meaningful audience growth and flow. Viewership is up from previous levels (and) there’s some nice momentum going into 2012. … We are starting to swing in a positive direction in term of getting people to spend more time with us.

Like I said, it’s tough to start a network.

This Article is related to: Uncategorized and tagged



My $90 cable package includes TLC, BRAVO, and some other popular channels but I'd need an upgrade to get OWN. I think she priced her channel out of reach of her core demographic. I'd be curious enough to watch if it was included in my current package but it isn't. Oh well.


I haven’t seen it (don’t have cable) but my friend really likes the network. Watches it all the time.

Give it some time!

Patience is A Virtue


What are you talking about? Have you even watched her network? She doesn’t have that many shows, and only 1-2 could be viewed as “preachy”; those being hosted by her Golden Goose, Dr Phil. She has cooking shows, movies, docu-series, reality, and her very popular Master Class & Life Class. Ted Turner had the same problem in the beginning, so did Fox, until Married with Children and Simpsons put their ass on the map.

She isn’t your demographic, nor the buppies who watch The Game and Single Ladies. It would be like me commenting on slow sales of GQ.


Oprah is not expanding her audience she seems to think cable is the same as regular television and she wants to attract a white, middle, to upper class audience. OWN is boring because people actually want to be ENTERTAINED NOT PREACHED TO. I agree with the comedian Kathy Griffin she says Oprah has a God complex. Oprah doesn’t seem to get it, her talk show did well because it was just one hour. But people don’t want to see 24 hours seven days a week of the same kinds of stuff.

I think Oprah should try to reach a black audience, youth audience, and just a wider audience. But I doubt Oprah will do that.



Yeah it is an extended cable channel which I think is hurting OWN in my opinion. Her other show ran on network tv and in syndication so you didn’t have to purchase an expensive cable package in order to watch it.

I have been watching OWN lately and they do have some pretty good programming on there. Oprah’s Lifeclass is one of my favorites along with Visioniaries and Our America w/Lisa Ling. I’m surprised no one mentioned that one because Ling does such a wonderful job.

Hope the network survives.


Is it a channel you have to pay for?


I haven’t watched anything on the network yet but I hope Oprah can do better on the programming/revenue end of things.


Well she turned her show into a self help institution. Thought she could do it with a network… possibly could have if she forced her off-shoots to move their shows to her network.

She’ll figure out the right formula eventually. She better.


Sweetie Pies is very good on the OWN Network! It comes on saturdays at 9est? Give it a try!


The programming is too bland, too self-help-ish, too similar to boring TLC/Lifetime/W.


All is not lost, but a MAJOR overhaul is urgently needed. From the beginning, the network clearly looked bad on paper. I’m surprised Oprah’s people didn’t see that.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *