As reported, Oprah Winfrey is reupping for two more years with King World Productions
continuing as her distributor.
That will take Winfrey through the 2007-08 season, with a strong possibility
that even those two years won't be her last.
"I don't see 2008 as being the final year," said Tim Bennett, president of
Harpo Productions. "I think as long as she continues to do what she likes to do
and feels like she's doing television that raises the bar, there really is no
end in sight."
As an added bonus for stations, Winfrey is sweetening the last two years of
her current deal by adding 85 more original episodes than promised with no
increase in license fee, King World CEO Roger King said.
Oprah will give stations 145 original episodes, or 29 weeks, next season,
just as she did this season.
She will then add 30 more original episodes to the 2004-05 season, bumping
production up from the promised 100 originals to 130 originals, or 26 weeks.
Production will remain at that level through 2007-08, King said, even though
Oprah had said she was retiring after the 2005-06 season with only 75 original
episodes, or 15 weeks.
"Oprah wants to continue to win," Bennett said. "She's making a difference and
to make a difference, you have to have the leadership position. We deliberated,
collaborated and decided that it would be in her best interest to retain the
same number of titles we're currently at, and 130 represents fresh shows for all
of these sweeps and then some."
While license fees will remain the same for Oprah -- around $3 million per week
collectively -- through 2005-06, King expects them to jump for this additional
round of renewals, although he wouldn't estimate by how much.
Even in this go-round, in which the ABC-owned stations resigned Oprah for
another two years, the CBS stations went after the show "very aggressively,"
King said, but lost out to ABC.
"Water seeks its own levels, and it's all about competition," King said. "King
World can't just turn down a higher offer and take a lower one."