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Oprah Winfrey Network Analysis


Now in its third year, the Oprah Winfrey Network continues to evolve with a mixture of original series, syndicated acquisitions, and plenty of programs starring the woman in charge. 2013 will also see the network’s first foray into the realm of scripted series.

The weeknight schedule is always subject to change, with some original series premieres (OUR AMERICA W/ LISA LING on Tuesdays; POLICE WOMEN on Fridays), but most nights showcase varied series repeats and specials. Acquisitions such as DATELINE and 48 HOURS: HARD EVIDENCE continue to round out the schedule. The familiarity of these programs is utilized in primetime blocks to boost mid-week ratings, along with being used as lead-ins to original series.

Saturday nights are dedicated to original reality series premieres. Shows such as IYANLA, FIX MY LIFE and WELCOME TO SWEETIE PIES have helped keep the network on a ratings upswing over the last year. Oprah night is Sunday, when she airs an assortment of programs starring herself, including OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER and OPRAH’S LIFECLASS.

Themes such as self-help, family, and inspiration can be found in Oprah’s original shows guaranteeing the viewer a positive and rewarding experience while watching OWN.

New shows in 2013 will include BLACKBOARD WARS, GOLDEN SISTERS, RAISING WHITLEY, and DOGFELLAS, along with the network's new venture into scripted programming. Tyler Perry will work with OWN as a writer for new scripted programs THE HAVES AND HAVE NOTS and LOVE THY NEIGHBOR.  Also, Perry's sitcom FOR BETTER OR WORSE has been picked up as an acquisition for the new year.


Live + Same Day Primetime Ratings Comparison / April 2013 vs. April 2012  (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

April turned things back around at OWN. After a month of loss in March, April enjoyed some healthy gains, and even saw some of the triple-digit annual gains the network had been experiencing last year. A healthy dose of original series premieres brought audiences back to the network. All in all, April held steady at OWN. Original series continue to rate the best, while reliable acquisitions slowly lose traction.

Mondays and Wednesdays offer primetime blocks of reliable acquisitions such as DATELINE ON OWN and 48 HOURS: HARD EVIDENCE. Annual loss across the board for both of these nights suggest that these acquisitions may start to get phased out once OWN’s original series arsenal get big enough to spread throughout the week. Acquisitions also fill the primetime schedule on Thursdays, but interestingly showed a healthy annual gain compared to 2012’s schedule of movies. Wednesdays and Thursdays both experienced monthly loss in all demos.

Jumping back to Tuesdays, this month offered blocks of OPRAH: WHERE ARE THEY NOW including two premiere episodes. Low ratings along with monthly and annual loss imply that Oprah’s interview shows aren’t quite strong enough to pull the same audiences during the week as they do on the weekends.

Fridays in April offered two weeks of POLICE WOMEN OF DALLAS blocks, which were replaced mid-month by original series encores. Encores of IYANLA, FIX MY LIFE and LIFE WITH LA TOYA drew lower ratings than POLICE WOMEN. The night showed slight monthly gains, but huge annual gains when compared to a 2012 schedule of Investigation Discovery acquisition SOLVED.

The new Saturday night schedule definitely turned things around this month. A second season of the very popular IYANLA, FIX MY LIFE premiered on the 13th and was used as a lead-in to newcomers RAISING WHITLEY and LIFE WITH LA TOYA. This lineup more than doubled the ratings of any other night and confirms that OWN’s original series are what draw the biggest audiences to this young network. Saturdays enjoyed monthly gains of more than 200% in both female age demos.

Sunday nights are usually nothing to shake a stick at either. This night full of Oprah interview shows (OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER, OPRAH’S LIFECLASS, OPRAH: WHERE ARE THEY NOW) still draws bigger ratings than weeknights. However, April showed slight monthly and annual loss among women 18-49, and women 25-54 stayed flat.

In May Oprah interviews Jason Collins and his family. This interview, along with more premiere episodes of the very popular Saturday night lineup, and two new Tyler Perry scripted series will hopefully continue this ratings upswing at OWN.