January 1st marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of Oprah Winfrey‘s OWN channel. As you’ve probably heard, 2011 didn’t go so great for OWN. Its ratings routinely failed to top the meager showing of its predecessor Discovery Health. That probably had a lot to do with the fact that for most of the year, the woman whose name makes up two-thirds of the channel acronym wasn’t on her own channel. Not sure whose idea it was to launch OWN without actually having Oprah on the channel. But whoever it was is either really dumb or really cynical. People love Oprah because she gives them quality. You can’t just slap the Oprah brand on some crap and expect people to keep tuning in.
Seems like the OWN folks and Oprah herself, have figured that out. Winfrey just gave a lengthy interview to the AP talking about her network’s year-one struggles.
She attributes the channel’s rough start to a more basic error: The lack of a “library” of programming for the many hours of airtime not filled by original shows, compounded by overconfidence about her market value in general.
“I don’t understand what anybody was thinking. You’re going on the air, you’ve got four shows. What do you think you’re going to do by Tuesday? Did they think people were going to turn on the channel just because it had my name on it?” she said, sounding almost eager to cast doubt on her drawing power.
“People didn’t turn on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ because my name was on it. It was absolutely topic driven every day,” she said.
Oprah is launching a new weekly show this Sunday called “Oprah’s Next Chapter.” She tells the AP if her network sinks, she’s moving to Maui to start an organic farm.