OWN: A Scorecard for the Discovery / Oprah JV – “1/1/11 Plus 1 = Minus $0.5 Billion”

  • Discovery’s investment in OWN rounds up to US$ half a billion:
  • And what for?
    • OWN’s average audience is less than the ‘under-performing’ Discovery Health network it replaced.
    • OWN’s average 4Q’11 primetime audience was down 9,000 viewers or 5% versus Health’s final 4Q’10.
    • And Health was kept alive on a drip feed of stale library product during the wait for OWN’s numerically auspicious 1/1/11 launch.
  • Key metrics vs. Discovery Health (FY’11 vs FY’10)
    • A25-54 (-7%)
    • A18-49 (-13%)
    • OWN’s audience aged from 48-52
    • OWN underperformed Health in around 14 of 21 Prime hours.
  • OWN’s workaday programming team is managing expectations in a very difficult situation
    • Their big hope is for a breakout hit like Queer Eye that transformed Bravo back in 2003.
    • But that’s a much bigger challenge a decade later when scores of channels are competing for slivers of the same mature audience.
    • OWN’s best result would be to make a few more advances along the lines of Sweetie Pies.
  • A Lesson From Lisa
    • America with Lisa Ling showed early promise.
    • But was swamped by the U.S. audience’s appetite for character-driven versus topic-driven entertainment.
    • Coming from her world of the topic-driven, syndicated daily talk show, Oprah Winfrey has not yet adjusted to the character-driven programming model of the 24×7 cable channel.

Coming Next

  • Who’s Hot? Who’s Not? U.S. factual networks in 4Q 2011 versus 4Q 2010
  • Top non-fiction series in 2010
  • NHK’s Cosmic Shore: A Blue Chip Science Case Study…

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Speaking Engagements

Asian Side of the Doc
Tokyo, March 19-22
Pitfalls and Challenges of International Copro’s
Workshops

MIPDoc
Cannes, March 30
Panel: How to Get the Funds

And Hot Docs is coming up in the Big TO
April 26 – May 6…