At a recent investment conference, Discovery's CEO speaking about OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network launch admitted, in effect, mistakes were made.
It always seemed to me that the financial play for Discovery was:
- Replace Discovery Health with OWN
- Negotiate up the network's subscriber fees from the cable and satco's.
As Dr. Phil might ask "How's that workin' out for ya?"
In the case of ratings (and likely their effect on negotiating leverage), it's so far, not so good.
Here are the comparisons across all the adult viewership demos I have between OWN in May, 2011 vs. Discovery Health in May, 2010.
- Total avg. viewership: Down 24%
- Women 18-34 viewership: Down 26%
- Women 18-49 viewership: Down 19%
- Women 25-54 viewership: Down 17% (likely the target demo for OWN)
- Adults 18-49 viewership: Down 30%
It's not a surprise that OWN isn't attracting as many men as Discovery Health, but the fact that it's not attracting as many women is a big problem, to put it lightly.
We noted long ago that OWN ratings troubles would almost certainly cause Oprah to bring a daily talk show like her recently finished syndicated show to OWN, and current ratings trends make that even more certain.
Our guess, look for an announcement this Fall!