According to The Wall Street Journal, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has emerged as the most-watched network for African American women.
The result comes amid a noticeable surge in average prime-time viewers in the past two years that amounts to roughly 30%.
Since launching in 2011, OWN has featured programming ranging from interview shows (“Oprah: Where Are They Now?”/”Oprah’s Master Class”); reality shows (“Flex & Shanice“/”For Peete’s Sake”); and news specials (“20/20 on OWN”/”Dateline on OWN”); inspirational programming (“Super Soul Sunday”/”Belief”), in addition to talk shows (“It’s No You, It’s Men”/”The Nate Berkus Show”) and scripted series (upcoming “Greenleaf”/”Queen Sugar”).
Despite debuting to huge numbers, the Journal notes that ratings quickly decreased to be on par with an upstart cable network. With that came criticism at OWN chairwoman, and CEO Oprah Winfrey from the press, which labeled the network, a partnership between Winfrey and the Discovery Networks, a failure.
As it turned out, OWN’s ratings performance was just what Discovery executives projected before Winfrey launched it on the small screen. Although the executives told her that it would take three years for OWN to successfully launch, Winfrey admits that she thought it wouldn’t take that long, considering the 25 years of success she had in the world of talk shows.
Nevertheless, things shifted in a major way for OWN as ratings rose in late 2012 into 2013 with shows like “Welcome To Sweetie Pies,” “Raising Whitley” and “Iyanla: Fix My Life.”
Adding to positive upswing was Tyler Perry, who aligned with OWN in 2013 to premiere the soap opera “The Have and The Have Nots” and a sitcom “Love Thy Neighbor” on the channel. The series proved to be golden in the ratings as “The Have and The Have Nots” broke viewership records.
Perry’s fruitful relationship with OWN expanded into TBS as the entertainment mogul moved his dramedy, “For Better or For Worse,” from that network to OWN; as well as launched a second soap opera, “If Loving You Is Wrong.”
Capping 2013 off was the fact OWN finally turned a profit and was in the black after it’s up and down journey.
With that and the support of black women, OWN’s future has proven to be solid.