Two months after the celebrated premiere of Oprah Winfrey's OWN channel, "it's getting its butt kicked." Ratings are about 10 percent lower than Discovery Health, the channel it replaced. At any given moment, the channel has just 135,000 viewers, and only some 45,000 of them are in the target demographic: women ages 25 to 54. Why aren't more women tuning in? Here, four theories.
1. There's not enough original programming
New episodes of the channel's 12 original series have done well enough, but viewers aren't tuning into reruns, says OWN chief executive Christina Norman, as quoted in The New York Times. "We opened the store, and they cleaned us out, so now we have to restock the shelves much faster than we thought we did."
2. Oprah's channel doesn't have enough Oprah
Winfrey doesn't have a show on OWN yet, and won't until September, after her syndicated talk show ends, says Matthew Fleischer at Fishbowl LA. "Things should be looking up" once Oprah's show launches, and draws viewers two or three nights a week.
3. Actually, there's too much Oprah
I'm not convinced that there's a big enough audience out there for a channel built around one woman, even if that woman is the big O, says Chuck Sudo at Chicagoist. OWN execs are projecting 50-60 million monthly viewers for a channel built around "Oprah, Gayle King, Oprah, Oprah, Lisa Ling, Oprah, Nancy O'Dell, Oprah, Gayle King and Oprah."
4. And it's not providing what women want to watch
When women plop down in front of the tube, they want "she-centric entertainment and escapism through old movies and TV show repeats," says The Telegraph. The top-rated women's network, Lifetime, provides that in the form of "Grey's Anatomy" reruns, made-for-TV movies, and classic films where women are the central characters. It would be smart for OWN to assess whether its "depressing" shows like "Prison Wives" and "I Shouldn't Be Alive" can really compete with Breakfast at Tiffany's.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Even critics of the euro didn't see this coming
- The real reason conservatives should be outraged that police killed a white youth
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 8 ways you're probably overspending without even realizing it
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- Why the West should accept ISIS as a sovereign nation
- The essential techniques that every home cook should know
- 6 constitutional amendments that just missed the cut
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
Subscribe to the Week