The full schedule of programming kicks in Monday, January 3rd, but OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network made its debut on New Year’s Day. Now the industry waits to see if the big investment by Discovery Communications and Winfrey’s Harpo Productions pays off.
To make sure that fans of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” – which still has a few months to run in syndication – know about the new cable network (just in case some of them have been living on the International Space Station or something and hadn’t heard) the main Oprah website was turned over to OWN to promo its various shows.
“how did i live without this channel before?!?!?! lovin’ it!” was the comment posted by one fan. But some others expressed dismay that their cable provider had located OWN on a premium tier, rather than merely substituting it for the former Discovery Health channel.
Winfrey herself will make only limited appearances, although that will presumably pick up when she no longer has the daily commitment to the syndicated show. OWN features a behind the scenes show about the production of the syndicated show. Also, “Oprah Presents Master Class” appears to be built around interviews conducted by Winfrey.
With any luck Winfrey is going to be able to build internally from a show called “Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star.” More than 15,000 people auditioned to vie for the opportunity to have their own show on the new network, and 10 contestants were picked to compete with the cameras rolling They range from total amateurs, such as Zach Anner, who wants to host a travel show from his wheelchair for people who never thought they could travel, to experienced KTLA-TV Los Angeles reporter Elizabeth Espinosa. “My show would incorporate the interview skills I’ve honed from being a reporter while also using that platform to help families with disabled children,” she says. The one-hour series premieres Friday, January 7 (9:00 pm ET/PT).
RBR-TVBR observation: Yes, a lot of money is on the line for this aggressive venture. But would you bet against Oprah? We wouldn’t.