Will OWN Move To Cater Specifically To African American Audiences?

By Jessica Grabert 2011-12-08 12:56:11 discussion comments
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Will OWN Move To Cater Specifically To African American Audiences?  image
The Oprah Winfrey Network, or OWN, has been struggling since its launch last January. If you werenít aware of this, thatís likely because you havenít 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 networkís savior. When OWN President Eric Logan began looking at what was working and what wasnít working on the network. Apparently, African American audiences were really down with Sweetie Pies, a show that follows Robbie Montgomery, one of Tina Turnerís 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.
ďWe now have a new opportunity to tell the story to different advertisers that didnít think about buying OWN if youíre trying to market your clients in an African-American marketplace. Our ad sales team now has the ability to open up those conversations.Ē

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 Oprahís 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.
ďWeíre not going to sell out and just chase one demographic or segment. . . . it is our job to strike a balance.Ē

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, OWNís primetime audience usually hits around 216,000 people. Sweetie Pies nearly doubles that, earning 418,000 people. Those numbers arenít really good. For instance, The LA Times has noted last nightís (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, itís probably Oprah Winfrey.
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