Five days into the launch of her new network, talk show queen Oprah Winfrey said she is excited about the future of OWN.
In a rare Television Critics Association winter tour appearance Thursday, Winfrey told a packed ballroom of TV writers that Saturday's launch of OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network -- a joint venture between Winfrey's Harpo Inc. and Discovery Communications - was "revelatory" for her.
"We couldn't ask for more - we built it and they came," Winfrey told Multichannel News Thursday night during an OWN dinner party. "My dream is that they continue to come. It's a long process - it's not about this weekend it's about sustainability long term, but I'm pleased with the start."
While OWN CEO Christina Norman said the network drew some 13 million viewers during its weekend debut, Winfrey said she's not concerned about ratings, but is focused on providing viewers quality and uplifting programming.
"Obviously ratings are important, but they're not as important to me right now ... I'm not concerned about that," Winfrey said. "What I am concerned about is could we get people to the channel. Now that we're able to do that what we know that if we continue to build the channel with programming that is meaningful to our viewers."
Winfrey termed her road to the launch of OWN as extraordinary, going from her days growing up in Mississippi without a television to her 25-year run on her syndicated The Oprah Winfrey Show which ends in September. While she wasn't an avid TV watcher prior to OWN's launch, Winfrey now says she watches virtually everything on OWN, including the commercials.
"I've never loved commercials so much in my life," she said. "It's been a wonderful learning curve for me."
Winfrey said that even if the network doesn't succeed it was worth the risk. She added that she's constantly reading OWN's message boards and will continue to listen to what her audience wants from the network.
"What would be a success for me is knowing that the viewers heard what we were trying to do," she said. "We're not going to get everybody, but at this point in my life I'm not trying to get everybody. I'm only trying to get the people who really want to hear it and what to see it."