Oprah Winfrey talked to VARIETY about the next phase of OWN (which is celebrating its 5th year), how Tyler Perry helped save her in the ratings and the best advice she received. More inside…
Can you believe it’s been nearly 5 years since Oprah Winfrey’s OWN debuted? After walking away from her iconic talkshow, Oprah Winfrey tells VARIETY that she wanted to focus on meaningful programming that which have a cultural impact around the globe.
“I wanted to have a way to speak to people and be connected and cultivate more meaningful conversations that mattered to people…..my dream of of having this network and programming created to uplift and to entertain. We have invested in storytelling. We have created a space where our loyal audience can come week after week.”
But it didn’t start out that way…
Back in 2011, the ratings were dismal and folks were waiting for the great mighty Oprah Winfrey to fall on her face. Could it be that she’s not perfect? That’s when she received some of the best business advice of her career from a fellow tv mogul.
“Lorne Michaels (the creator of “SNL”) told me over four years ago that it was going to take five years to get up on its feet.”
And he was right…
Most recently, OWN logged its most watched night, since its 2011 debut, with the Sept. 22nd season finale of Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and Have Nots.” Oprah credits Tyler, who became a partner in OWN during the 2012 season, with creating some of the channel’s most successful programs to date. “Tyler has been such a boon for us.”
In terms of new programming, Oprah is most excited about OWN’s upcoming seven-night special “Belief” which kicks off Oct. 18th. We told you about the series a few weeks ago, as it examines aspects of faith and belief around the world. The OWN team worked on it for three years and production traveled to 32 countries!
There is also an upcoming scripted series named “Greenleaf,” a mega-church drama from writer Craig Wright that will feature Winfrey in a recurring role; and “Queen Sugar,” from “Selma” director Ava Duvernay. “The future’s so bright it burns our eyes,” said Oprah.
On another note, Discovery CFO Andrew Warren noted that OWN, a joint venture of Winfrey and Discovery, will return $80 million to Discovery (to help recoup some of the startup financing provided in the early years) and OWN has already repaid Discovery nearly $150 million.
By the way, for Variety’s latest cover (atop) Oprah was selected as one of the mag’s five #PowerOfWomen honorees where she is recognized for her humanitarian work with her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation.
Oprah’s totally our spirit animal. And this is why.
Photo via VARIETY IG/Pamela Littky