Discovery Communications is now the dominant partner in Oprah Winfrey’s OWN. The Discovery Channel-proprietor recently paid $70 million to get an extra 24.5 percent of the Oprah Winfrey Network from Harpo, Inc. Oprah’s Harpo and Discovery were already 50-50 in the joint network. As a component of the most recent exchange, Winfrey will proceed as CEO — her exclusivity contract with OWN, as an on-air personality, has been extended through 2025.
“Ten years ago, Oprah and I began to imagine what a network, inspired by her vision and values could mean to viewers across the U.S.,” said David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery. “In an increasingly crowded landscape, OWN has emerged as the leading destination for African-American women and one of the strongest super-fan brands across all screens and services. This transaction allows Discovery and Oprah to unlock more value from our partnership; extends once more her commitment to the network; and lets us continue our strong work together to nourish OWN viewers with the content they love.”
The now fruitful OWN got off to a rough start, with rating battles and official turnover denoting its first couple of years on air until the time that it discovered its groove with programming speaking to African American female viewers.
“Creating OWN and seeing it flourish, supported by Discovery and a rapidly growing group of the finest storytellers in film and television, is one of my proudest achievements,” said Winfrey. “I’m thrilled with the network’s success and excited about this next chapter in our partnership.
Together, we’ll continue to inspire our viewers with real-life stories that are emotional and entertaining, connecting them to each other and to their greatest potential.”
Discovery is expanding its stake in OWN as it hopes to finish its procurement of cable programmer Scripps in mid 2018, whose stable includes Food Network and HGTV, will be joined with Discovery’s arrangement of female-centered networks, including TLC, ID and OWN. That gives Discovery five of the best cable TV networks for women, speaking to 20% of women watching primetime TV in the U.S.
“I’m excited for OWN to be part of Discovery in a deeper, more meaningful way and for the opportunity this unlocks for our future,” said Erik Logan, President, OWN. “Our network has achieved what most people thought was impossible and as we look toward the future, now more than ever, we are poised for continued success.”