It seems even Oprah Winfrey can learn something from the old adage, "If you want something done right, do it yourself." The Chicagoan announced Wednesday that she will assume the role of CEO at her fledgling Oprah Winfrey Network, a move that would give the groundbreaking talk show host a more "hands-on" role in shaping the direction of the network. OWN could certainly use Winfrey's golden touch. The struggling network has been plagued by unexpectedly low ratings since its launch in January. "I am ready to dedicate my full creative energy and focus as the full-time CEO of OWN," Oprah said in a statement. But is it too late?
The damage has been done: The underwhelming performance of OWN is a case study in how not to launch a business venture, says Kent Bernahrd, Jr. at Portfolio. Winfrey made every mistake in the book, from hiring the wrong people to not trusting her instincts. Now, she "faces the difficult task of retooling a start-up that has the reputation of floundering." It may be an insurmountable challenge.
"Lessons for Oprah (and other entrepreneurs)"
But Oprah can fix anything: "This is good news for Oprah fans," says Linda Sharpe at The Stir. And not just because Winfrey's "benevolent iron fist" may be enough to turn OWN around. Winfrey knows what works, and what's worked on OWN is… Oprah Winfrey. The show that routinely pulls in the network's biggest ratings is the behind-the-scenes reality series chronicling the final season of her talk show. So now that Winfrey's in charge, fans can look forward to more Oprah — and OWN can look forward to higher ratings. "I, for one, welcome our new Oprah overlords."
"Oprah as OWN CEO means all Oprah, all the time"
And she's clearly committed now: Not only is Oprah taking over as CEO, she's bringing two of her most trusted colleagues from her TV production division, Harpo Studios, in as presidents of OWN, says Hillary Reinsberg at Mogulite. Aligning the two enterprises shows that Winfrey is "desperately trying to keep this ship afloat," but also that Oprah is ready "to throw all the chips into OWN, and just pray it works out."
"As OWN tanks, Oprah takes over as CEO"