OWN Renews ‘Raising Whitley’

OWN continued to solidify its Saturday Night lineup of original programming with the renewal of freshman reality series Raising Whitley and the greenlighting of additional episodes of its breakout docu-series Deion’s Family Playbook.

Raising Whitley, which follows actress/comedienne Kym Whitley who adopts and raises a young child with the help of her friends, averaged nearly 559,000 viewers in its freshman season, according to OWN co-president Erik Logan. The30-minute show was so successful that OWN extended the show to one-hour in the 10th of its 18-episode freshman season and will retain the hour-long format for its eight-episode sophomore campaign, according to network officials.

 “The first season was big success for us – we looked at the show and saw that it has a wonderful cast of characters,” he said. “We took a risk in opening it up to one hour, but we felt that we could dive deeper into some of the heartier issues of raising children.”

Deon’s Family Playbook (pictured), which follows the lives of former pro football/baseball athlete and single father Deion Sanders and his girlfriend – Hollywood producer Tracey Edmonds – generated 716,000 viewers in its first year, the highest-rated freshman docu-series in OWN history, said the network. More importantly, Logan said the series was a major brand success for the two-year old network, as it showcased a positive message about fatherhood among African-American men. 

“Our expectation for the show was to tell the story the best way we can and to showcase that there are a lot of different ways to raise families and a lot of different ways to demonstrate love and presence for children,” he said. “That came through with every segment, and the ratings were just terrific for us.”

The shows will continue to help bolster the network’s Saturday night block of original reality and docu-series which also includes recently launched Love In The City, as well as Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s, and Life With La Toya, which will premiere its second season June 7.  

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.