OWN will see a boost in the number of homes in which the network can be seen as a result of a new distribution deal with Comcast. The agreement adds 3 million viewers for the Oprah Winfrey Network, which will now be available in 83 million homes, and Comcast will begin paying subscriber fees for the network next year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The news is a small shot in the arm for Winfrey’s network. SNL Kagan estimated it could lose more than $140 million this year and suggested that co-owner Discovery might be tempted to pull the plug. As well, Rosie O’Donnell’s talker was canceled recently, and 30 employees were laid off in a cost-cutting move.
Several of OWN’s other distribution agreements with MSOs and satellite operators provide for rate increases in 2013. SNL Kagan estimated that OWN’s average subscription fee will rise to 15 cents a subscriber per month, amounting to more than $153 million for next year, up from $29 million this year.
RBR-TVBR observation: OWN is not out of the woods by any means. 3 million additional subscribers is not a game-changer. We would assume some MSOs and perhaps the satellite providers may want a re-negotiation of their contracts with OWN – or a better deal with Discovery Networks overall – unless something big happens with the network in before next year’s rate increases. As we’ve said before, OWN’s best move would be to just bring back her daily talk show.