Discovery Communications announced that Christina Norman, CEO of OWN – Oprah Winfrey’s Discovery network – is stepping down from her post effective immediately. Discovery’s Chief Operating Officer, Peter Ligouri, is taking over her role on an interim basis, and will also continue to act in his previous role at Discovery.
"Joining OWN was a great opportunity, and launching it successfully and drawing more than 67 million viewers is one of my proudest achievements," Norman is quoted as saying in a Discovery press release. "My thanks to Oprah and [President and CEO of Discovery Communications] David [Zaslav], for entrusting me with this brand and giving me the opportunity to launch OWN."
A spokesman for OWN was not immediately available for additional comment.
Norman joined Discovery Communications in January 2009 – two years before the (repeatedly-delayed) launch of the network on January 1st of this year. She'd previously served as president of MTV. While Oprah Winfrey famously gave up her daytime talk show to focus on the new channel (which rebranded from Discovery Health), the network has not taken off as hoped. OWN averaged 309,000 primetime viewers in the first quarter of 2011 – a relatively small audience (though it did represent a 21 percent increase from the year before period, when it was still Discovery Health). Perhaps even more significant, though, is that in the first quarter of this year, less than a third of its total viewers were in its target demographic of women age 25-54.
Ligouri joined Disovery in 2009 from Fox Broadcasting Company, where he’d served as president of entertainment. In addition to the new interim responsibilities he’s assuming today, Ligouri also helps oversee The Hub (a joint venture with toy manufacturer Hasbro) and 3Net (a joint venture with Sony and Imax), as well a number of the Discovery's business operations, including Corporate Affairs, Business Affairs, Research and corporate communications.
“Peter is Discovery’s creative leader, and highly qualified to assume the leadership at OWN for the next phase of growth,” said Discovery Communications CEO Zaslav. “Christina did a great job launching OWN with long-term support from both advertising and affiliate partners. Peter will now ensure that OWN reaches its full creative potential with great programming that delivers on Oprah's vision, mission and brand."