Oprah Winfrey’s Network Draws Big Audience – WSJ.com


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Oprah Winfrey‘s new cable network made a splash in its debut Saturday night, reporting more than 1 million viewers for its first prime-time shows over a holiday weekend.

The new channel, dubbed OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, launched at noon on New Year’s Day, replacing little-watched cable network Discovery Health in around 80 million homes. At its peak Saturday night, the channel says more women between the ages of 25 and 54 were watching OWN than were watching all but two other cable networks—Walt Disney Co.‘s ESPN and General Electric Co.‘s USA.

A 50-50 joint venture between Ms. Winfrey and Discovery Communications Inc., the channel is a big bet that Ms. Winfrey can convert the nearly 7 million people who watch her syndicated “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” into loyal viewers of a cable channel. The network launched a big promotional campaign, and Ms. Winfrey devoted two episodes of her daytime show last week to plugs for the new network.

“The good news is people showed up when they marketed it aggressivelyand Oprah told them to go out and watch,” said Rich Greenfield, a media analyst at brokerage firm BTIG. “The real question is how capable they’ll be of sustaining the ratings over the coming months and years.”

Ms. Winfrey was OWN’s biggest draw, averaging 1.2 million viewers for the first two episodes of “Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes,” a reality show that chronicles the final season of her daytime show, according to early Nielsen Co. data that the network released. Ms. Winfrey plans to tape the last episode of her daytime show in May, and its last episode will air in September

via Oprah Winfrey’s Network Draws Big Audience – WSJ.com.

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