Oprah’s Lifeclass, featuring Oprah and life coach Iyanla Vanzant, returns to OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network‘s primetime lineup with a special 90-minute episode at 9 PM Sunday, July 7. In the first episode, Winfrey and Vanzant continue the conversation on the subject of fatherless sons in America. It will be followed by two new original episodes at 9 PM on July 14 and July 21 in which they’ll expand the conversation to address “Daddyless Daughters”. Iyanla: Fix My Life is back at 9 PM on July 27 with five new episodes that will address a wide range of topics impacting people from all walks of life. Welcome To Sweetie Pie’s returns Saturday, July 27 at 10 PM with Miss Robbie and her son, Tim, debating the shutdown of their original Sweetie Pie’s soul food restaurant location and Tim facing the reality of life as a single dad. Oprah: Where Are They Now?, returns Sunday July 28 at 10 PM. The new season features former Oprah show guests, newsmakers and celebrities and follow-ups.
EXCLUSIVE: CAA lost the longtime top client in late December. And now I’ve learned that Oprah Winfrey has signed with WME‘s Ari Emanuel and Rick Rosen and a team of agents. The big signing comes after Oprah and her cable network OWN scored 3.2 million viewers for her confessional sit-down with disgraced doper Lance Armstrong. I understand today’s move culminates a long slow wooing by the agency, the same kind that WME has done with Dick Wolf (successfully) and Shonda Rhimes (unsuccessfully, for the moment), and some other key TV creators and producers. Winfrey had been a very important client for CAA. Among other things, the agency put together her deal with Discovery Communications for OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. But Oprah isn’t an easy client by any means.
Discovery CEO David Zaslav wants Wall Street to ignore the “noise” about financial losses at his OWN joint venture with Oprah Winfrey. “We have a long way to go,” he told analysts this morning, but adds that “despite what you read, we’re making real progress” — forecasting that cash flow will break even in the second half of 2013. The company won’t say exactly how much the venture is losing. It acknowledges, though, that OWN accounted for most of the $50M in “other” costs that Discovery reported for Q1. (Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Vasily Karasyov estimates that Discovery took a $30M hit to shutter Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show.) Discovery has to report 100% of OWN’s losses because they outweigh the equity in the channel. But “2012 funding will be less than 2011,” Zaslav says, now that OWN “has taken significant steps that will help the network improve its financial position.” The channel cut costs and employees.
Zaslav’s more upbeat about OWN’s growth opportunities. Beginning next year several pay TV providers including Comcast will pay significantly higher fees for the channel (Zaslav won’t say how much) than they pay now or paid for OWN’s predecessor, Discovery Health. He also sees ad sales improving as the audience grows. Zaslav says OWN reaches 85M pay TV subscribers, up from 80M. With about 15M viewers a week, it has become the 27th-highest-rated network for women — up from last year when …
We’ll see pretty soon whether investors are more impressed by the $1B Discovery is adding to its stock-repurchase program than they are disappointed by the Q1 results — which include losses from its OWN joint venture with Oprah Winfrey. The company generated $222 in net income, down 27.5% vs the same period last year, on revenues of $1.1B, up about 16%. The revenue figure was slightly ahead of estimates. But earnings, at 57 cents a share, were short of the 60 cents the Street anticipated. Discovery says that it had to shave $102M from net income: There was a one-time gain last year of $102M when it contributed Discovery Health to OWN — but the earnings release also notes that “operating losses at OWN exceeded the equity contributed” to the struggling cable channel. The amount includes a $1M restructuring charge.
Revenues for Discovery’s U.S. Networks increased 16% to $681M. The company says that’s due to a 23% increase in licensing sales as well as a 13% increase in ad revenues from higher pricing, ratings, and sellouts. The International Networks also performed well with revenues of $380M, up 18%. The Education unit grew 2% to $42M. Discovery slightly increased guidance for its 2012 results: It now says that total revenue will be at least $4.55B, up from the previous forecast in February of $4.45B, with net income …
The live online discussions with Oprah Winfrey that OWN featured during premiere week of its new series Oprah’s Lifeclass will continue, the network said today. Winfrey will participate in the conversations on Fridays from 9-10 PM ET, immediately after episodes of Lifeclass from 8-9 PM. They will continue through the series’ on-air run and online beginning this week. OWN said the webcasts generated more than 1.6 million streams on Oprah.com and on Facebook via live and on-demand viewing, boosting Oprah.com’s traffic by 60% compared with the week before, according to Omniture.