At an investment conference in the Spring, 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 still so far, not so good.
Here are the comparisons across all the adult viewership demos I have between OWN in 3rd Quarter (July-Sept), 2011 vs. Discovery Health in 3rd Quarter, 2010.
- Total Day Avg. viewership: Down 20%
- Total Day Women 18-34 viewership: Down 32%
- Total Day Women 18-49 viewership: Down 24%
- Total Day Women 25-54 viewership: Down 15% (likely the ad target demo for OWN)
- Total Day Adults 18-49 viewership: Down 25%
It's not a surprise that OWN isn't attracting as many men as Discovery Health, but the fact that it's still 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!
Those with memories better than mine may note this is similar to a post I did back in June comparing Y/Y May results. You're correct. I've just updated the numbers for Q32011.