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Discovery: OWN’s Falling Short Of Its Business Plan, But Oprah Calls The Shots

Discovery CEO David Zaslav was as optimistic as he could be yesterday when he spoke to analysts about his OWN joint venture with Oprah Winfrey. But his company’s annual report filed this morning at the SEC tells a slightly different story: It says that Discovery has already contributed $312M to the venture, far more than its original $189M commitment. What’s more, Discovery “expects to provide significant additional funding to OWN.” And despite Zaslav’s enthusiasm, the funding “is expected to exceed OWN’s earnings for the next two years.” Indeed, Discovery acknowledges that the channel’s early results “have been below its initial business plan” which means “there is a possibility that the results of OWN’s future operations will fall below the revised long term projections.” Could that lead to a write-down? Perhaps. Discovery says that it will “continue to monitor the financial results of OWN” to determine whether “an impairment has ocurred.” The filing says that Discovery expects to recoup its investment, which accrues interest at a rate of 7.5% compounded annually. “There can be no event of default on the borrowing until 2023,” it adds — although the venture is supposed to repay in four years “to the extent that OWN has excess cash” to handle the debt. While Discovery owns 50% of OWN, it can’t ensure that it will be repaid because Winfrey “holds operational rights related to programming and marketing, as well as selection and retention of … Read More »

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Meg Lowe Moves From Discovery To Distribution And Strategy Gig At OWN

By | Monday August 15, 2011 @ 1:32pm PDT

Los Angeles, CA – Meg Lowe has been named senior vice president of distribution and strategy for OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, it was announced today by Erik Logan and Sheri Salata, presidents of OWN. Lowe has been elevated to the position having most recently served as senior vice president of distribution for Discovery Communications. In her new role, she will lead sales and affiliate marketing and all carriage negotiations for OWN.

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TCA: Oprah Faces Critics And Reporters

By | Thursday January 6, 2011 @ 6:43pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

“It’s like being thrown to the wolves,” Oprah said frettingly while getting seated onstage for a Q&A session about her new OWN cable network.  She didn’t have to worry. Within a few minutes, she had complete control of the room, taking her time answering questions, telling stories, choking up while doing it, throwing in jokes, inspiring, in short, being Oprah. She invoked her childhood as a poor girl in rural Mississippi raised by her grandmother several times, including when she talked about seeing herself on TV as she introduced OWN to viewers in the channel’s first minutes on the air on Jan.1. “In that moment, I was thinking about this journey and not just those last couple of years with people coming and going and finding the people with the right (attitude). I was thinking about how absolutely extraordinary it is that I can sit at this place coming from this little town in Mississippi.”During the Q&A session – actually, Q&A is an overstatement, the session resembled more a series of monologues by Oprah, with only 5 critics being able to ask questions in 45 minutes – the talk show host talked a lot about her dreams. When she started in TV, her dream was to become a guest host on Good Morning America, she said. Her agent at the time told her that would never going to happen as the colored anchor spot in morning TV … Read More »

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ANALYSIS: Lessons Of The Fall & What Lies Ahead For The Big 4 Broadcast Networks

Nellie Andreeva

As broadcast network executives were leaving for their holiday destinations last week, most of them were certainly glad to get away, and not only because of  the dreary wet Los Angeles weather. The broadcast networks had little to cheer about this fall, which failed to produce breakout hits of the size of Modern Family or Glee a year ago. This year, the breakout hits were all on cable: The Walking Dead on AMC and Rizzoli & Isles on TNT, which ranked as the top basic cable series of 2010 among adults 18-49 and total viewers, respectively. The biggest new reality hit was also on cable, MTV’s Jersey Shore, which launched at the very end of 2009. Here are some notes on the fall season, evaluation of the performance of the individual networks and a look ahead at midseason.

- The biggest thing on TV this season has been football, which set ratings records for NBC and ESPN. It dwarfed the entertainment competition not only in live viewing but also in Live+7 where scripted series gain a significant chunk of their viewership.

- It’s nearly impossible to launch a new series at 8 PM. Two of the 3 new 8 PM series, NBC’s Undercovers and ABC’s My Generation, are history, while ABC’s No Ordinary Family was on a ratings decline until moving to 9 PM where its numbers stabilized. NBC’s new reality series School Pride barely registered in the Friday 8 PM slot, raising concern over CBS’ plan to launch new drama Chaos in the slot in midseason.

- Big-name producers don’t guarantee success unless the name is Chuck Lorre. While the Lorre-produced new CBS sitcom Mike & Molly is the highest-rated new series this fall in the 18-49 demo, J.J. Abrams’ Undercovers went bust as did the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced ABC legal drama The Whole Truth, while another Bruckheimer series, Chase, is fading. The jury is still out on Dick Wolf’s Law & Order spinoff Law & Order: Los Angeles, which has had so-so ratings so far. Next up are Shonda Rhimes with ABC’s Off the Map and David E. Kelley with NBC’s Harry’s Law.

- Texas proved the unluckiest setting for new series. Of the four freshman series set and filmed in the Lone Star state, My Generation, Lone Star, The Good Guys and Chase, 3 have been already been canceled and one, Chase, is struggling. Read More »

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By | Friday December 10, 2010 @ 11:30am PST
Nellie Andreeva

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network today released a new 70-second promo for the January 1 launch of the cable channel. While the first one that has been running in movie theaters was all about Oprah (and balloons), this one features more of the stars from OWN’s inaugural slate of series.

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