OWN Making Money Ahead of Schedule

Discovery Communications says the slow-starting Oprah Winfrey Network, turned cash-flow positive in the second quarter, ahead of the company’s early projections.

Speaking on the company’s earnings call with analysts, Discovery CEO David Zaslav said OWN’s ratings were up 39% among women 25 to 54 on the strength of new shows, including two under a recent agreement with Tyler Perry. The network added 30 new advertisers during the upfront and scored double-digit increases in scatter pricing.

Combined with increased fees from long-term affiliate agreements, OWN had begun paying back the investment Discovery made in the channel, Zaslav said. Discovery had said it expected OWN to turn cash-flow positive in the second half of the year.

Discovery has invested $509 million in the network, a joint venture with Winfrey. Although hyped at launch, the network did not have enough programming to attract viewers and went through a number of executive teams before finding its footing.

Zaslav congratulated Winfrey the network’s current performance and said Discovery was bullish on the network’s long-term trajectory.

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.