Finally some good ratings news for struggling OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. The premiere of the new original series Why Not? With Shania Twain on Sunday drew 839,000 viewers and a 0.80 rating in women 25-54 at 11 PM. That was the network’s highest-rated series debut since its premiere weekend at the beginning of January and the second-highest demo result for an original series premiere overall, behind the Jan. 1 launch of Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes on OWN’s premiere night and tied with the debut of Ask Oprah’s All Stars on Jan. 2. Why Not?, which posted triple-digit increases vs. Discovery Health’s numbers a year ago, followed the season finale of The Judds (555,000, 0.48). OWN’s ratings woes led to last week’s shakeup that saw CEO Christina Norman leaving and Discovery Communications COO Peter Liguori stepping in as interim CEO.
During its earnings call today, Discovery Communications said that it will invest an additional $50 million in OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, earmarked to boost the fledgling network’s original programming. The new cash infusion into OWN is on top of the $100 million originally invested in the joint venture between Discovery and Winfrey’s Harpo and the extra $89 million committed last summer. Discovery brass noted that OWN’s viewership in its first month was more than 30% higher than that of its predecessor Discovery Health. (However, OWN recently dropped below Discovery Health in some ratings categories). Discovery Communications president and CEO David Zaslav said he was “very encouraged” by OWN’s outlook and expects ratings to pick up as Winfrey switches to the channel full-time after the end of her syndicated show and with the launch of Rosie O’Donnell’s daily talk show in the fall.
On Tuesday, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network will mark one month on the air. The network, which on Jan.1 replaced Discovery Health amidst a wave of publicity, is still work in progress, OWN CEO Christina Norman admits, but says it is on track to achieve its first-year ratings goals. To help do that, OWN is doubling the number of new series offerings for February from the planned 2, Our America with Lisa Ling and What Would You Do, an acquisition from ABC News, to 4, including Searching For…, which stars investigative genealogist Pam Slaton and Breaking Down the Bars, which follows eight inmates in a women’s prison in Indiana.
At its launch, OWN introduced 7 new series. Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes, which follows the final season of Winfrey’s syndicated show, has been the most successful one, more than tripling what Discovery Health used to average in the slot. But the other two shows carrying Winfrey’s name, the much-touted Oprah Presents Master Class and Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star, have been disappointments, Norman admits. “Your OWN Show show hasn’t been able to capitalize on its (Oprah Behind the Scenes) lead-in,” Norman said. “There will be a winner who will get their own show, but it’s a drag if something didn’t work.” As for Master Class, which is barely pulling even with Discovery Health’s average, it “is trending in the right direction,” Norman said.
OWN launched on Jan. …
It was a case of good news-bad news for Oprah Winfrey today when the ratings for the heavily hyped Monday edition of her syndicated show as well as last week’s ratings for her cable network OWN came in. The Monday episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, in which Oprah revealed that she has a half-sister, drew a 9.7 household rating/22 share in the metered markets, the show’s highest numbers in 6 years, since the after-Oscars broadcast on Feb. 28, 2005, which posted a 10.8/23.
Meanwhile, according to the basic cable ratings for last week released today, OWN’s ratings continued to slide in its third full week on the air. For the week of Jan. 17, OWN averaged 297,000 viewers in primetime, down 4% from the previous week. (The network launched on Jan. 1, with an average of 1.1 viewers in primetime for its debut weekend, then averaged 387,000 in its …
Rosie O’Donnell, whose new daily talk show, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, will premiere on OWN in the fall, has been tapped to do specials for selected documentaries from the OWN Documentary Film Club, starting with Becoming Chaz, which will premiere in May. (It features Sonny and Cher’s offspring Chaz Bono). Meanwhile, according to the basic cable ratings released earlier this week, in its second full week on the air, OWN slipped to 310,000 viewers in primetime, down 20% from 387,000 the week before. (The network launched on Jan. 1, with an average of 1.1 viewers in primetime for its debut weekend.) As OWN is yet to bottom out, the network has fallen behind all of its female-oriented cable competition, including Lifetime (793,000), Oxygen (565,000) and WE (331,000).
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