The Oprah Winfrey Network, or OWN, has been struggling since its launch last January. If you weren’t aware of this, that’s likely because you haven’t spent a lot of time watching OWN, which has struggled to create a ton of original programming in general, not to mention audience-specific programming. Luckily for Oprah, there may be a fix for OWN.
A reality program called Sweetie Pies might be the network’s savior. When OWN President Eric Logan began looking at what was working and what wasn’t working on the network. Apparently, African American audiences were really down with Sweetie Pies, a show that follows Robbie Montgomery, one of Tina Turner’s ex-backup singers who now owns a soul food restaurant. Logan believes there is a whole new realm of advertisers to speak to given Sweetie Pies' success.
“We now have a new opportunity to tell the story to different advertisers that didn’t think about buying OWN if you’re trying to market your clients in an African-American marketplace. Our ad sales team now has the ability to open up those conversations.”
However, if OWN decides to attempt to cater advertising to a specific demographic, the network will have to change its programming to follow suit. Since Oprah’s audience has always been a diverse range of people, catering more to African Americans could potentially push other audiences away. Logan has said OWN will continue to think in broader audience terms, even if they do try to refocus a little. That's probably good news for Rosie O'Donnell.
“We’re not going to sell out and just chase one demographic or segment. . . . it is our job to strike a balance.”
Even if the network finds a way to really cater to a broad audiences while still carving out a niche, OWN has a long way to go before it becomes a critical contender. According to THR, OWN’s primetime audience usually hits around 216,000 people. Sweetie Pies nearly doubles that, earning 418,000 people. Those numbers aren’t really good. For instance, The LA Times has noted last night’s (granted, highly-watched) premiere of Storage Wars: Texas earned 4.1 million total viewers. It will be more of a mountain than a hill to climb for OWN to head to the top, but if anyone has it in her, it’s probably Oprah Winfrey.