OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) is here. It debuted on New Years Day at noon. But where’s Oprah? She’s not there…yet , but she will be on in the fall. OWN is the channel built around Oprah and her universe. Given her widespread appeal and the long-time success of the Oprah program, it’s not a stretch to predict that OWN will be popular. But it’ll take some time. That’s because Oprah is doing her victory lap of her own daytime syndicated program which will finish taping this May with the last show to air on September 9. Until then don’t expect to see Oprah hosting a show. You’ll only see glimpses of Oprah introducing programs and “behind the scenes” documentaries of her final Oprah show season, called “Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes”
After the September 9th Oprah finale expect to see reruns from the more than 5,000 hours of the 25 years of Oprah. Word is that the content will be repackaged and themed—celebrities, book club, etc—rather than straight re-runs. Beyond Oprah reruns, expect to see new Oprah programming later this fall including “Oprah’s Next Chapter” where Oprah travels around the world.
In the meanwhile, viewers will see lots of the following programming:
“Oprah Presents Master Class”, a celebrity tell-all
“Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star”
“Ask Oprah’s All Stars” featuring Oprah friends Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz and Suze Orman
“Enough Already with Peter Walsh”, a knock off of “Hoarders”
“In the Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman”
“Miracle Detectives”, following reports of supernatural events
“The Gayle King Show”
Financially, OWN is a 50-50 joint venture between Oprah and the Discovery Network and it replaces the Discovery Health Channel and will serve 85 Million households, albeit initially from an obscure position in most cable channel line-ups.
But when Oprah shows up in full force in the fall, no doubt the channel will gain traction. 25 years later, we’ve seen no signs of Oprah burnout, at least yet.
Note: Preliminary Nielsen data from Saturday and Sunday debut indicated 1 Million prime-time viewers on Saturday and 846,000 on Sunday, roughly 4 times the viewership of the predecessor Discovery Health Network. Not surprisingly the most popular program was Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes