The TV industry will not have to face a world without Oprah Winfrey, or her cash flow, for at least seven more years.
The talk-show queen has reupped through 2011. That's great news not only for the ABC-owned stations that carry much of Oprah's massive audience right into their newscasts, but also for Viacom, which can count on piling up hundreds of millions of dollars in Oprah bucks.
Estimates have The Oprah Winfrey Show raking in some $300 million a year in license fees, ad sales and international distribution, all of which is split between Viacom's King World Productions and Oprah's production company, Harpo.
Back in May 2003, Oprah put to rest rumors that had her retiring in 2006 by reupping through 2007-08.
On Thursday, King World announced that Oprah would stay on through 2010-11. "The thought of taking the show to its 25th anniversary is both exhilarating and challenging," Winfrey said in a statement. "The years ahead will allow me to continue to grow along with my viewers and will give my production company the time and opportunity to use the show as a launching pad to create and develop additional projects and potential future shows."
In addition, Oprah is going to kick up her production next season, with 140 episodes apiece for the next four seasons, up from the planned 130, but down from the last four season's 145.
Ever since Oprah announced that she would continue through 2008, the show's ratings have been growing steadily.
During the May sweeps, the show scored its highest ratings in seven years among households, women 18-34, women 18-49, and women 25-54. The show is cleared in 212 markets, or 100% of the U.S.