Oprah Winfrey to Make Discovery Health Channel Her OWN
Winfrey and Discovery Networks announced today that the Queen of All Media will take over their Discovery Health Channel in a cashless transaction which essentially transfers her brand to the outlet under a new name: The Oprah Winfrey Network.
It's a deal which makes sense. DHC is a channel with tremendous reach -- available in 70-million homes, thanks to Discovery's aggressiveness in securing carriage for its subsidiary channels. But it has low name recognition, and one of its biggest stars is a Winfrey creation: Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Under this deal, DHC programming become Winfrey's playground and Oprah.com becomes a part of the media platforms featuring OWN content. As with Winfrey's channel on XM satellite radio, I don't expect to see much of the Queen herself on this new channel. Instead, surrogates such as Oz, Gayle King, personal trainer Bob Greene and psychologist Robin Smith will likely get TV outlets to match their radio shows.
My question: What will happen to health issues which don't fit the female-friendly vibe Winfrey has mastered? And what about the Oprah reruns now on Oxygen?
Here's the press release:
Chicago, Ill. and Silver Spring, Md. — Tuesday, January 15, 2008 — In an unprecedented deal, Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications announced plans today to create “OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.” The new multi-platform media venture will be designed to entertain, inform and inspire people to live their best lives. OWN will debut in 2009 in more than 70 million homes, on what is currently the Discovery Health Channel. The venture will also include the award-winning digital platform, Oprah.com.
“Fifteen years ago, I wrote in my journal that one day I would create a television network, as I always felt my show was just the beginning of what the future could hold,” said Oprah Winfrey, who will serve as chairman of OWN. “For me, the launch of ‘The Oprah Winfrey Network’ is the evolution of the work I’ve been doing on television all these years and a natural extension of my show.”
You may contact OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network directly at:
9150 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90069
“There is no stronger voice than Oprah Winfrey in engaging, motivating and connecting people to live healthier lives. Oprah has inspired me personally, and through this new venture, Oprah’s talent and drive will have a dedicated multimedia platform to empower, engage and connect with people on-air and on-line,” said David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Communications. “At Discovery, our goals are to improve the quality of the networks while expanding the reach and success of our web presence. This venture does both, and having Oprah as Chairman and creative leader makes OWN a very unique property in a crowded media landscape.”
OWN’s mission is to create multiple platforms for women, men and their families with a purpose and a passion: to celebrate life, to inspire and entertain, empowering viewers around the world to live their best lives, and by doing so, lift the lives of those around them in ever-widening circles.
In addition to providing her talent, and personal commitment, Winfrey will have full editorial control over the joint venture and will be responsible for OWN’s programming, branding and creative vision.
Winfrey will serve as Chairman of The Oprah Winfrey Network, LLC and the venture will be 50/50 owned by Discovery and Harpo. This is a cashless transaction and The Oprah Winfrey Network, LLC will be an independent company.
Discovery Communications will contribute to the venture the Discovery Health Channel as well as handle distribution, origination and other operational requirements for the proposed venture. Both organizations will contribute advertising sales services to the venture.
The search for OWN’s Chief Executive Officer to oversee day-to-day venture operations will begin immediately.
Oprah.com offers extensive expert advice, interactive workbooks, photos, video, inspirational stories, books and features to more than six million unique visitors with more than 80 million page views per month.
Since its launch in 1999, Discovery Health has given viewers access to the world of medicine, health and wellness through voices of experience and stories of inspiration. Historically, the ratings and audience share for Discovery Health has been less than 20% of the total ratings of viewers watching the Discovery Channel or TLC.
Additional information regarding the formation of “OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network” will be available on a media conference call—with Oprah Winfrey and David Zaslav—which is being held today, January 15, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern / 12:00 p.m. Central / 10:00 a.m. Pacific. The call may be accessed by dialing 866-725-8019 (for domestic callers) or 702-477-6075 (for international callers) and using the conference ID: 31240348.
Harpo Productions, Inc. produces the number one rated, award-winning “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” creates and develops original TV programming, and operates Oprah.com, a premier women’s lifestyle website. Harpo Print, LLC and Hearst Magazines publish the monthly O, The Oprah Magazine and quarterly O at Home publications. Harpo Films, Inc. produces feature films as well as top-rated telefilms under the “Oprah Winfrey Presents” banner. Harpo Radio, Inc. produces “Oprah & Friends” (Channel 156) on XM Satellite Radio.
About Discovery Communications
Discovery Communications is the number-one nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers in over 170 countries. Discovery's 100-plus worldwide networks are led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science Channel, Discovery Health and HD Theater, with digital media properties including HowStuffWorks.com. Discovery Communications is owned by Discovery Holding Company (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB), Advance/Newhouse Communications and John S. Hendricks, Discovery’s founder and chairman. For more information, please visit www.discoverycommunications.com.