OPRAH'S 'OWN' NETWORK IN TROUBLE
The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) premiered on New Year's Day of this year to great fanfare and expectation. While the queen was preparing to leave behind her daily talkfest, it seemed a natural progression for her to operate her "OWN" network. But now less than 5 months into the Oprah experiment, critics are questioning the move, saying some ideas are best left on paper.
Like most of Oprah's not-so-successful movies and television specials, critics say the OWN Network is suffering a similar dilemma --- it's high on substance, but low on entertainment. For example, OWN just launched a new program entitled "Extraordinary Moms," which, according to the channel's website, "explores the power of mothers, featuring courageous, brilliant and awe-inspiring women who share a powerful connection: the love they have for their children combined with a fierce desire to protect the future of all children." Although it sounds nice and inspiring, it's boring to today's television viewer. Just put up "Extraordinary Moms" against an episode of "The Jersey Shore" then guess which program will draw in millions of viewers?
OWN took over the Discovery Health channel on its debut, but since then has failed to even match the daily ratings of the network it replaced. To date, OWN is averaging about 300,000 viewers in prime time and 150,000 in total per day, while other network numbers are rating in the millions. During the first week of OWN, viewers tuned in out of curiosity --- but quickly tuned out when they realized the programming was not interesting enough to pull them away from a myriad of alternatives.
In response to the abysmal ratings, TV veteran Christina Norman, chief executive of OWN since its inception, was released from the network. Oprah went on record last week saying she was not happy with the direction of OWN, promising to devote more time and attention to it once her daily talk show ends May 25th.
If Oprah truly wants to save OWN, she would be smart to allow a fresh injection of sheer entertainment alongside, if not in place of, her beloved inspirational programming.