Discovery Increases Stake in Oprah Winfrey Network

Discovery Communications said it completed an agreement with Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Inc. to increase its stake in their OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

Discovery paid $70 million for an additional 24.5% stake in the network, which brings its ownership to more than 70%.

Winfrey will continue as CEO of the network and is committed through 2025. Harpo will retain an significant interest in OWN.

Launched in 2011, OWN got off to a slow start, attracting few viewers, going through a number of management teams and burning through cash before hitting a on successful formula.

"Ten years ago, Oprah and I began to imagine what a network, inspired by her vision and values, could mean to viewers across the U.S.,” said Discovery CEO David Zaslav. “In an increasingly crowded landscape, OWN has emerged as the leading destination for African-American women and one of the strongest superfan brands across all screens and services. This transaction allows Discovery and Oprah to unlock more value from our partnership; extends once more her commitment to the network; and lets us continue our strong work together to nourish OWN viewers with the content they love.”

OWN has become the #1 network for African-American women with the top four original scripted series on ad-supported cable. The network is led by hit series including Queen Sugar and Greenleaf, the top two original series on all of television Wednesday nights for African-American viewers.

“Creating OWN and seeing it flourish, supported by Discovery and a rapidly growing group of the finest storytellers in film and television, is one of my proudest achievements,” said Winfrey. “I’m thrilled with the network’s success and excited about this next chapter in our partnership. Together, we’ll continue to inspire our viewers with real-life stories that are emotional and entertaining, connecting them to each other and to their greatest potential.”

Discovery Communications was advised by Allen & Company LLC and Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, P.C. Harpo, Inc. was advised by Moelis & Company LLC and Loeb & Loeb LLP.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.