*The cost of launching Oprah Winfrey’s cable network OWN is set to soar beyond its $100 million budget – because executives have already spent three quarters of the money before its January 2011 debut.
Brass at Discovery Communications invested the sum in a joint venture with Winfrey to premiere the talk show host’s new network in 2011.
In a newly released report on second quarter earnings, Discovery Communications chief Brad Singer admits the firm has so far “spent $75 million… on investment in the Oprah Winfrey Network,” three quarters of the “maximum of $100 million that we’re obligated to.”
And costs look set to rise, in part because the launch has been delayed twice, after previously aiming for 2009 and mid-2010.
Singer adds, “We’re in the process of revising that contract. (The budget) likely will go up… The cost to launch the network, it will be higher than we had originally contemplated.”
So far, OWN has signed deals for several star-led shows, including “Why Not? With Shania Twain,” which will follow her life on the rebound after a messy public divorce, in addition to several documentaries produced by Winfrey’s celebrity homies Julia Roberts, Forest Whitaker and Goldie Hawn.