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Oprah’s OWN Ratings Aren’t So Hot

It’s only been two months, so we’re not sure how much to read into this, but Oprah’s network OWN isn’t doing very well in the ratings. In fact, it’s getting its butt kicked. OWN is averaging about 135,000 viewers at any given time, far lower than the network that preceded it: Discovery Health. Oprah’s ratings are a full 10 percent lower then her predecessor’s, according to a big Sunday story in the New York Times.

Of the seven shows that had their premieres in January, the stand-out was “Ask Oprah’s All-Stars,” a four-part panel discussion featuring Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Phil McGraw and Suze Orman. The flop was “Your OWN Show,” a “Survivor”-style competition to groom a new talk show host for OWN.

Outside prime time, “The Gayle King Show” at 10 a.m. weekdays isn’t yet drawing enough eyeballs to generate a total viewer rating, according to Nielsen, but Ms. Norman said, “Creatively, we’re very happy with the show.” It is at a disadvantage because it is not surrounded by other original shows, so it has to “self-start everyday,” she said.

All that said, Oprah doesn’t actually have a show on her network yet. That will have to wait until September, when her syndicated talk show comes to an end. Rosie O’Donnell will also be joining the network around that time. So things should be looking up. We’ll see if Discovery shareholders have the patience to wait that long before demanding some immediate cash-generating changes. They’d be silly to get in the way so soon. But the investment class of this country isn’t known for its foresight.

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