Oprah getting own network

In fact, OWN, as in the Oprah Winfrey Network, will be its moniker. No word yet on whether it will migrate across the border. But for advertisers, says Sunni Boot, being seen with the Big O guarantees 'greater loyalty and engagement of the viewing audience.'

Call it the next logical step for the legendary talk-show host/actor/producer. Oprah Winfrey’s production company, Chicago-based Harpo Productions, announced yesterday that its owner will soon launch her own cable network.

Winfrey has inked a deal with Discovery Communications that will morph the US-based Discovery Health Channel into OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. The new net will likely launch in the second half of 2009, with ownership divided 50-50 between Harpo and Discovery. Currently, Discovery Health reaches about 68 million American households.

‘This is an evolution of what I’ve been able to do every day,’ Winfrey told Associated Press. ‘I will now have the opportunity to do this 24 hours a day on a platform that goes on forever.’

OWN will be the second network Winfrey has established. The first was Oxygen, which was sold to NBC late last year.

It’s too early to say whether OWN will take to the Canadian air waves. But, ZenithOptimedia president Sunni Boot tells MiC, ‘Should it come to Canada and transform Discovery Health (a digital network owned by Alliance Atlantis), it will do well to the extent that digital penetration does well.

‘Oprah has cachet on both sides of the border. She offers viewers credibility and topics that are current, relevant to their lifestyles and provocative,’ Boot explains. ‘For the advertiser, this in turn means greater loyalty and engagement of the viewing audience. And the opportunity of a channel of this nature to link online with on-air components would also be a beneficial feature.’