Oprah’s OWN cable network struggled to find its audience when it first debuted in 2011. Just two months after its launch, The New York Times reported:
“OWN, her two-month-old channel, is attracting fewer viewers than the obscure channel it replaced, Discovery Health. At any given time this month, there have been about 135,000 people watching OWN, according to the Nielsen Company, and only about 45,000 of those people are women ages 25 to 54, the demographic that the channel is focusing on.
Those ratings levels, down about 10 percent from Discovery Health’s levels last year, are being carefully watched by people who would like to rebuild cable channels around other celebrities, and by investors who worry that OWN is a drag on Discovery’s stock.”
Fast forward 5 years and the OWN network is kicking up daisies. At a time when many cable networks have been experiencing declines in their viewership, OWN’s average prime-time viewership has grown roughly 30%, climbing to 537,000 in the past two years, as many network have suffered significant declines. According to The Wall Street Journal, the network’s new lineup has resonated strongly with women and black audiences.
Since signing on Tyler Perry in 2012, who currently has four shows on the network, and adding new programs like Ava DuVernay’s Queen Sugar and the megachurch drama Greenleaf, OWN has significantly grown its viewership and visibility.
It’s not clear whether or not OWN will keep up the momentum but we sure hope so! Do you watch? What are your favorite shows?