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Oprah’s OWN Network fails to build momentum

By Kim Palacios After nearly a month on the air, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has failed to maintain the energy of early buzz and to build critical momentum. Ratings for most shows are on decline, even following normalization from the initial push. The response is surprising, given the media mogul’s capacity to supply rich content and finance a successful marketing campaign, not to mention the built-in following afforded by OWN’s partnership with Discovery Networks.

A questionable programming mix may explain poor results. When paired with Oprah originals such as “Oprah Behind the Scenes” and “Oprah’s All-Stars”, Discovery Network shows such as “Mystery Diagnosis” and “Trading Spaces” seem unlikely bedfellows. Add in several completely unrecognizable titles such as “Cristina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love” and “Anna & Kristina’s Grocery Bag” and the network’s focus seems a bit schizophrenic.

Another peculiarity of the network: despite fourteen currently available shows and another three in the pipeline for spring, viewers who tune in often find three to four-episode marathons of the same show allocated to a large block of time.

Still, the OWN Network isn’t much ado about nothing. Current programming notwithstanding, the network hasn’t even scratched the surface of its potential. Hours of programming from years worth of Oprah Show archives would surely appeal to die-hard fans. And, new shows such as “Oprah Presents Master Class” are distinguishing themselves as winners.

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One Comment

  • February 2, 2011 | Permalink |

    I think part of the reason viewership hasn’t taken off is the fact that cable/satellite companies have put the network on higher tier programming bundles, which is out of OWN’s control. If you read the comments on the OWN home page, at least 50% or more are from people complaining that they can’t afford the channel (it’ll cost them anywhere from $10-30+ per month). In the first couple of weeks of January, everyone had a free preview. If the same number of people that were watching on the free preview were still allowed to watch all the way through the month, I doubt you would see such a drastic drop in viewership.

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