Will OWN Adjust Its Focus to Cater More to Black Audience?

Oprah’s OWN network has been struggling to find an audience since it premiered.  According to Adweek, the cable network’s executives believe they may have found a way to help grow channel’s ratings. They want to focus more on the black audience that helped make Sweetie Pies the channel’s highest-rated show.

“Anytime you have a program that pops like Sweetie Pies did, you start looking at what drove it,” Logan told Adweek. “And we saw that the African-American audience really had a connection with that show. . . . We’re going to look at ways to nurture and grow that.”

Reportedly, Sweetie Pies pulls in around 418,000 viewers. However, on average, OWN earns 216,000 viewers in primetime. Don’t expect to see OWN become to niche specific, though. Harpo's Erik Logan tells Adweek.

“We’re not going to sell out and just chase one demographic or segment," he said. “We’re going to nurture the success we had with Sweetie Pies. . . . [But] it is our job to strike a balance. The Oprah brand is not niche. The Oprah brand is very broad. How we translate that to the screen is the challenge we have.”

Sweetie Pies Photo Credit: OWN

16 Responses

  1. Profile photo of east.west

    In Alec Baldwin voice: “Oh, Oprah”

    I guess given that mess of a network, next step is to try to pander. And I know this might be bad to say, but it seems like Oprah turned her back on her people awhile ago, so it’s all kinds of ironic that this is even something they might be doing.

  2. Profile photo of josser

    Basing the future of a network on the success of one program, seems odd. Also, OWN isn’t part of basic cable. It’s a higher tier digital network for every one I know. I don’t see why people would pay extra for a network that is carrying the same self-help stuff that’s available on free broadcast TV or basic cable stations.

    As for switching to focus on African-American programming, there’s already BET, TVOne and kinda sorta VH1.

    I read that $245 million has been invested in own so far. That’s a lot of money to waste.

  3. Profile photo of thecourt99

    Interesting. While there have been many new channels launched without the help of AA audiences, I always go back to Fox. A struggling new broadcast channel that obtained viewers on the backs of In Living Color. I figure, if it worked for Fox, why not make it work for OWN?

    OWN’s biggest challenge to me is that it is not basic cable. So their measures for success are different and they need to try that much harder to reach audiences.

  4. Profile photo of

    My thing is Oprah is a brand and what Oprah did for her show was made it #1, but cable is totally different platform, so yeah it going to struggle. However there are some shows that I will watch, and I love Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s and it was great show, but I just think she does have to go back to the drawing board for some of the other programs that on her network.

    BET, TVOne and VH-1 may cater to the AA audience, but as an AA I would like for Oprah to cater to a more affluent AA aduience and that’s hasn’t been touch by Oprah or any other network. The audience is out there, but I guess in the eyes of many executives they would never believe there’s an affluent AA audience out there.

  5. Profile photo of Angie Lucy
    Angie Lucy

    There are 22 million African Americans; we can handle more than three channels. Besides, it took BET decades to realize that we wanted more than videos and one news program, and VH1 is just trying to rebrand now that people go to YouTube for videos. One more network wouldn’t be outrageous. However, I don’t expect (and never have expected) Oprah to become a “niche” network–at least, not in terms of race or ethnicity. That’s never been what she’s about. But she could have realized a little sooner that a couple of Black programs could be helpful. Actually, she could have realized a lot of things, such as who cares about the O’Neals? Meanwhile, millions care about soaps. Clearly, her broad fanbase hasn’t been willing to pay extra to see her undefined, boring network. She should have taken advantage of 3-5 million hardcore soap fans who would have paid to see their shows, even if on a truncated schedule for cost effectiveness. If Sweetie Pie’s is her biggest hit at 418,000, just imagine what three million for AMC/OLTL would have done for her.

  6. Profile photo of Restless Vixen
    Restless Vixen

    It never ceases to amaze me that a cable show with less than half a million viewers is considered a hit. However; soap operas, which come on daily when most people are at work and with no ability to show reruns or do a “marathon” to attract “new” viewers (well, there was Soapnet, but that will die next year along with ABCD) are expected to have 10 million viewers. I don’t know why the bar is set so much higher for daytime dramas.

    Personally, I love Sweetie Pies. Robbie’s restaurant is similar to a small chain run by my uncle and aunt back home. The family is relatable and are fun to watch. But I think Oprah really does not know what she is doing with this network. Other than Sweetie Pies, OWN is boring as hell.

  7. Profile photo of Alasoaper

    Oprah snubbed the soaps–and now–what goes around comes around. I turned Oprah off completely after her comments about AMC and OLTL. Payback is a bitch, isn’t it?

  8. Profile photo of SoapArmageddon

    Oprah snubbed the soaps?

    I guess making frequent references over the years to her love of all things AMC is the new definition of snubbing.

    I’m sure she would have loved to have a bunch of angry soap fans attacking her when storylines didn’t go the way they wanted.

  9. Profile photo of liason4real

    If the soaps ended up on OWN, there is a good chance that Oprah would become the new Brian Frons and would start meddling in story line direction or dictating which actors get more screet time.

  10. Profile photo of syworld82

    Honestly, As an avid soap fan and a loyal viewer of Oprah Winfrey, I truly believe she made the most logical business decision for her and her new busines venture. She needs solid brands like Lisa Ling and Rosie O’Donnell that will bring in numbers

    A new network cannot build itself on shaky stars like Erika Slezek and Susan Lucci. These are F list celebrities at best and truthfully, people outside the realm of the soap community DO NOT want to see 50 and 60 year olds GETTING IT ON ..

  11. Profile photo of Camp is not a sustainable model
    Camp is not a sustainable model

    @Angie Lucy: Soaps cost 50 million per soap to produce for 1 year. No cable network has the funds to produce a 5 day a week drama series. So there was no way she or anyone else could even think of taking on that burden.

    Truth is, in this day and age trying to find a home for daytime drama’s is like trying to find someone who is willing to take in 15 kids and their momma and pay for everything. It ain’t gonna happen.

    PS: There are 37.6 million African Americans as of 2010 not 22 million.

  12. Profile photo of Camp is not a sustainable model
    Camp is not a sustainable model

    @Everyone: Stop looking to daytime. Think about the web soaps. These are cost effective sudsers that would translate well into a cable drama series.

    Take “The Bay” for instance. That show could be produced for less than 1 million dollars a year. And like primetime soaps it could have seasons. The series could run for 3 months and have 3 months off and have half hour episodes 3 to 5 days a week.

    And since there are already established web soaps they could take those and give them each the 1 million dollarsand allow them to rework it for cable and get all the taping done. And then put the product out there. In this way you are spending about as much as you do for a reality TV show. So take The Bay, Empire & Venice and you use them as the test launching pads for dramatic serials on cable.

    But this constant idea that the traditional daytime drama’s can make the jump is simply not it. Guiding Light was the lone soap to survive jumping from the radio to television. Few soaps that were on the radio at the time (and there were a lot) even made it to television. And those that did all failed accept GL. So like that, the era Web Soaps are now the new era of Daytime. So we need to stop holding on to the past and look toward the ‘diamonds’ in the rough we have on the web and help shape them into the beautiful gems that they will become.

    And so like Dorothy Dandridge’s mother said to her when she was in that car “That girl don’t even know who you are… You can’t Miami waiting baby!”

    And we can’t keep the web waiting.

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