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Oprah Winfrey Network Hurt By Ratings Decline

Oprah Winfrey Launches OWN
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Coming off her phenomenal career in daytime talk, it seemed a shoo-in that when Oprah launched her own network, it would fly.  But that does not seem to be the case.

After luring such famous stars as Shania Twain,  Celine Dion,  Sarah “Fergie” Feguson, and others over the first ten months of the launch, it seemed she was poised for success.  However, due to declining ratings, Hollywood experts and televsion execs are saying famous names and other “hot” guests are staying away because they think nobody is watching.  Now, of course there are viewers. But from a healthy start of  3/4 of a million to about 250 thousand regular steady watchers of OWN.   Besides the sagging ratings, other TV insiders say Oprah’s HARPO entertainment team had a reputation of treating people poorly because of what is called inflated egos. That has made it difficult to get famous names to appear on OWN shows, or even develop their own shows that would be on OWN.  Jenny McCarthy was one of the first casualties, cancelling her planned show on OWN even before production began because of what her rep said was rude, insensitive treatment by the OWN staff.     Other execs point to other ‘cable’ channels that struggled initially.  For example, BRAVO was considered a third-tier tiny network that occasionally dropped off the grid until they hit it huge with the show “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy.”   The success of that show led to a sense of legitimacy for BRAVO, and since then they have been able to develop other successful projects, leading to far more advertiser money, and more budgets.  TV execs say it may just be a matter of time before OWN is able to hit it big.  But until then, money will be difficult, as the ratings for the channel are  66 percent below what most national advertisers want before they will consider spending money long term.  Other execs say it doesn’t help that Oprah has ‘partnered’ herself with controversial Rosie O’Donnell by helping her with her OWN show; O’Donnell is viewed by some national advertisers as a product mainstream Americans, especially women, will not want to watch.

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