Oprah Winfrey plans relaunch after viewers drift away
Published 11/10/2011 | 11:16
Oprah Winfrey is said to be preparing a $15 million relaunch for her struggling television network, after its prime-time viewership tumbled by more than one third.
The one-time queen of daytime television, who retired from The Oprah Winfrey Show on CBS in May, after 25 years, is to launch an advertising blitz and take a bigger on-screen role in her new cable channel, the Oprah Winfrey Network, in an attempt to win back lost ratings.
She will be stepping up her role in Oprah's Lifeclass, a nightly programme resurrecting old episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show, in addition to pushing ahead with previous plans for hosting Oprah's Next Chapter, a chat-show set to air from January. She will also conduct online discussions with fans over the internet, in front of a live studio audience.
The rescue package comes after officials at Discovery Network, OWN's partner channel, expressed concern that viewers were tuning out because the star on whose name and image OWN is based and marketed fails to appear often enough.
"With the numbers for OWN being so horrible, Discovery insisted that Ms Winfrey have more of a presence on the network. So they're scrambling," a source said to be close to the network told Fox News.
Now, instead of simply providing a voice-over commentary for Oprah's Lifeclass, as originally planned, Ms Winfrey, 57, will appear on screen.
Ms Winfrey, ranked by some as the most influential woman in the world and, at one time, the world's only black billionaire, is largely unfamiliar with failure, though her 1998 feature film Beloved was a spectacular flop, earning back less than half of its $53 million production costs.
"Now the big fear is that OWN is the new Beloved," said the source.
Ms Winfrey admitted during a live Internet discussion last month that OWN had not been the easiest of projects to manage. "It's a lot harder than I ever imagined," she confessed.