*The New York Post is reporting that Oprah Winfrey’s OWN got another big bailout check from its partner company to keep it afloat.
The paper claims Winfrey’s partner in the channel, Discovery Communications, is investing millions more to promote OWN and expose it to new viewers, sources said.
As previously reported, Discovery will carry the Oct. 10 premieres of both “The Rosie Show” and “Oprah’s Lifeclass” at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. respectively across five Discovery networks: TLC, Planet Green, Investigation Discovery and Discovery Fit + Health in addition to OWN.
Discovery is also running ads across all 14 of its cable networks leading up to the premieres and is even running ads on several broadcast rivals to promote the shows, according to The New York Post. Discovery is expected to spend $15 million on the push, sources tell the newspaper, outstripping the $10 million it spent on the launch of OWN. Ads are also appearing in weekly magazines, on billboards and on TV.
The unprecedented exposure for the new shows is part of what network officials are calling a “reset” after a “soft launch” in January when OWN took over the channel slot occupied by Discovery Health.
“For Oprah and the network, we do start on Monday. We begin the actual real launch [of OWN],” Rosie O’Donnell said yesterday during a conference call with reporters. “It was sort of a soft launch in January, and now we begin again.”
This isn’t the first time OWN officials have had to hit the reboot button. The channel has revamped its programming and overhauled management multiple times since its inception. Oprah, who wrapped up the final season of her syndicated show in May, took charge of her namesake cable channel this summer after Discovery CEO David Zaslav told her that OWN needed her to be “all in.”
Discovery needs OWN to be successful, as it has spent more than $200 million to fund the channel and has sold major marketers such as Procter & Gamble on multiyear ad deals.
So far, OWN’s ratings are trailing those of predecessor Discovery Health. In the third quarter, OWN drew 15 percent fewer women ages 25 to 54 years old — the target category for advertisers — compared to last year, according to Nielsen figures.
The arrival of “Oprah’s Lifeclass” is significant: It’s the first time that material from the 25-year old “Oprah Winfrey Show” has landed on the fledgling channel. The show repackages self-help material from prior seasons with fresh introductions from Oprah. There’s also a follow-along program at Oprah.com.
Oprah’s new show will go up against ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother,” Fox’s “Terra Nova” and NBC’s “The Sing Off.”