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Oprah Winfrey Not ‘OWNing’ The TV Ratings

OWN not owning the ratings
(Photo by J. Emilio Flores/Getty Images)

Serious questions are being asked about the future of Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network, after 20 percent of the network’s staff were laid off this week.

While the resounding thud you may have heard was the failure of Rosie O’Donnel’s failed talk show on OWN (which taped it’s last episode Tuesday–the same day she turned 50),   many in TV land are questioning the health of the network.    Despite pumping hundreds of millions into the channel, it’s ratings have NOT exceeded those of the Discovery Health channel, which it replaced.

    Disney, who is the parent company of both networks, is also finding a significant ‘backlash’ from not a huge, but vocal audience who were fans of Discovery Health, and were upset it was replaced by OWN.  On the heels of her wildly successful TV talk show career, it seemed a shoe-in that her own TV network would win. But it has not.   OWN had promised it’s own original, ‘fresh’ programming, but has since backed off that stance, adding shows taken from Investigation Discovery, one of it’s sister channels.

  O’Donnel’s talk show, which ate up 20 million of the 310 million investment Disney has made in OWN, had only 130,000 viewers last week–a near record low for what is called ‘cable’ or non-network television in it’s time slot.  Disney has brought in new executives and financial officers to streamline and run the network. Only time will tell if it survives.

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