Oprah Winfrey Network Analysis

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Less than two years on the air, the Oprah Winfrey Network continues to evolve with a mixture of original series, syndicated acquisitions, and plenty of programs starring the woman in charge, Oprah herself. Primetime scheduling is consistent, which allows the audience to rely on what they’re tuning in to each day of the week.

Tuesdays and Sundays are Oprah nights, airing an assortment of programs starring the boss lady, including TOP 25 BEST OPRAH SHOW MOMENTS where viewers can re-live some of the greatest moments from the very popular OPRAH SHOW. Thursdays and Fridays run syndicated episodes of mystery-driven shows such as DATELINE and 48 HOURS: HARD EVIDENCE.

Following a common method for many young networks, the reliable syndicated shows, along with the many Oprah-starring programs, are used as lead-ins to original series during the whole week. Themes such as self-help, food, and inspiration can be found in Oprah’s original shows guaranteeing the viewer a positive and rewarding experience while watching OWN.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / December 2012 vs. December 2011  (% Change)




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Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

OWN is still a relatively new network and has been progressively evolving from the start. The network’s brand is an extension of the OPRAH WINFREY SHOW and has developed a schedule around that brand. 2012 was a very successful year for OWN, showing record growth every month. Its progression can be seen in the original programming that has been developed over the entire year.

Primetime lineups slowly moved away from blocks of either Oprah-starring shows (OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER, OPRAH: WHERE ARE THEY NOW) or acquisitions (UNDERCOVER BOSS, 48 HOURS: HARD EVIDENCE) to original reality shows centered around the network’s brand, and not starring Oprah herself. New shows like IYANLA, FIX MY LIFE and WELCOME TO SWEETIE PIES were big hitters this year, proving that this network is on a track to becoming a standout in the cable television landscape.

Except for Tuesdays, most of the workweek is filled with mystery/drama acquisitions. DATELINE ON OWN is Monday night’s resident. However, this month one week was filled instead with the movie Australia, which was shown back-to-back on Christmas Eve night.

Tuesday nights replaced a full night of OPRAH: WHERE ARE THEY NOW with repeat episodes of UNFAITHFUL: STORIES OF BETRAYAL leading into Season 2 premiere episodes of IN THE BEDROOM WITH DR LAURA BERMAN. This method proved unsuccessful and resulted in a monthly loss in all demos on Tuesdays. Yearly numbers still showed a gain from December 2011, but not the triple-digit gains OWN usually sees.

Wednesdays and Thursdays possess UNDERCOVER BOSS and 48 HOURS: HARD EVIDENCE respectively. However, the network tried sliding in some original programming on these nights toward the end of the month. While all of these nights showed the comfortable yearly gain the network has gotten used to, Monday through Wednesday all showed monthly losses in both female age demos.

Friday night’s block of POLICE WOMEN OF… had a slight lineup change at the beginning of the month when two episodes of MARRIED TO THE ARMY were tried out. Ratings stayed low on Fridays, and similar to the front of the week, showed monthly losses across the board.

On the weekends, the numbers got dramatically better, with Saturdays being the obvious winner for OWN. This night has been used consistently to premiere new original programming. IYANLA, FIX MY LIFE and WELCOME TO SWEETIE PIES have both done exceptionally well on this night, and the story remained the same in December when OWN premiered SIX LITTLE MCGHEES. The premiere episode on the 15th, was the second highest rated telecast for the network all month.

Sunday night blocks of either OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER or OPRAH: WHERE ARE THEY NOW also brought strong ratings for the network. Despite the boost in weekend numbers, both nights showed monthly losses across the board, but still kept the annual gains in the double and triple digits.

2013 will definitely bring more original reality shows that do not star Oprah, but rather find new reality stars within the show itself (TROUBLE NEXT DOOR, STATEN ISLAND LAW). In addition to a slew of new original reality shows, Oprah is crossing over into scripted territory with her friend Tyler Perry at the helm. Perry has written two new scripted shows for OWN set to premiere in May 2013. Along with these are at least four additional scripted shows premiering throughout the year.