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Has Oprah’s Star Power Dimmed? Relaunch Of OWN Will Put That To The Test

Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav have run out of excuses: With their unofficial relaunch today of OWN, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves if their struggling joint venture fails to show a big improvement in the ratings following a dismal 3Q. In its targeted demo, women 25-54, OWN delivered a rating of .16 — down 16% vs. the same period last year when the channel was still Discovery Health. OWN may have set a deceptively low bar for itself; word is that it cut back on marketing in preparation for the relaunch. Still, the channel is betting everything on Oprah’s star power — and, to a lesser extent, Rosie O’Donnell’s — and that will be put to the test beginning today with the launch of The Rosie Show (7-8 PM) and Oprah’s Lifeclass (8-9 PM). Winfrey’s program, built on clips from her syndicated talk show, begins with one of her classics: for an episode about “ego,” she will include scenes from the show where she illustrated how much weight she lost from a liquid protein diet by wheeling in a wagon filled with 70 pounds of fat. Discovery will air both shows today on TLC, Investigation Discovery, Discovery Fit & Health and Planet Green as well as OWN.  The joint venture also is spending more than $10M for marketing, not including free ad time on Discovery-owned networks. The cash is going for ads on hit shows such as The X Factor and Dancing With The Stars, as well as radio and billboards, and websites including Yahoo, Google, People.com, Technorati, and TVGuide.com. Read More »

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Oprah Winfrey And Rosie O’Donnell Shows To Debut On Five Discovery Networks

(Los Angeles, CA) – OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network announced today that the premiere episodes of the new OWN series “The Rosie Show” and “Oprah’s Lifeclass” will air concurrently across five Discovery Communications networks when the series debut on Monday, October 10. Joining OWN in airing the premieres will be TLC, Investigation Discovery, Discovery Fit & Health and Planet Green.“The Rosie Show” will air at 7:00 p.m. ET and “Oprah’s Lifeclass” at 8:00 p.m. ET across the five networks.

“OWN is ramped up for a creative and entertaining all-new fall season driven by the powerful cornerstones of ‘The Rosie Show’ and ‘Oprah’s Lifeclass,’” said Sheri Salata, president of OWN. Erik Logan, president of OWN added, “We are thrilled with the ongoing support of our partner, Discovery Communications, whose commitment to OWN’s mission is unwaveringand will create more great exposure for these highly anticipated premieres.”

In addition to the simulcast, as part of an overall strategic outreachplan, Discovery Communications is also devoting significant promotional time across its family of U.S. networks and social media support to drive awareness and sampling for “The Rosie Show” and “Oprah’s Lifeclass.”

“With Rosie and Oprah debuting daily on OWN, we couldn’t be more proud to offer our other Discovery properties to drive awareness and build audiences for these fantastic new shows,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO, Discovery Communications.

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Discovery Communications To Invest $50 Million More In OWN Original Programming

Nellie Andreeva

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.

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Rosie O’Donnell To Do Specials For OWN Documentaries While Net’s Rating Slip

Nellie Andreeva

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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