Yesterday, it became clear that the rumors were true: Oprah Winfrey will be leaving her network TV show in 2011.
Tim Bennett, CEO of Winfrey’s production company Harpo, sent a letter to the local television stations that broadcast her show yesterday, letting them know that “The Oprah Winfrey Show” would be coming to an end in September 2011. After, Winfrey will appear on her cable channel, OWN.
Winfrey will inform her audience of her decision on her show today. The announcement was taped live at 10 a.m. and has already aired on some stations. (The New York Times‘ media blog has a full description of the announcement.)
Network television stations and Winfrey’s distributor, CBS, won’t find it easy to replace her in terms of influence and audience, but the star herself is taking a big risk. As the Times points out:
“For Ms. Winfrey herself, the move represents an enormous bet — that her popularity and golden touch with programming can sustain an entire cable channel and that she’ll remain a central cultural figure even without the mass exposure of broadcast television every day.”
One a scale of one to suburban housewife, we probably love Oprah a bit more than your average urban young professional (working from home helps feed our daytime TV addiction), but we doubt we would fight with Time Warner to make sure we get OWN in order to watch her show after it leaves broadcast TV. No matter, we have a feeling Oprah will find other ways to extend her influence. She’s been getting into live Web casts, so maybe an online-only book club or something of that nature is in her future. With her billions of dollars, a cable net, a magazine and her brand name, the sky is the limit for Oprah.
Oprah Done In 2011 –FishbowlLA
Winfrey Bets on Her Future With Cable –New York Times
Earlier: Could Oprah Be Leaving Broadcast TV?