OWN: A Test of the Oprah Brand, An Opportunity for Other Brands

Despite a launch that the AP calls “rather quiet” Oprah’s new OWN cable network launched this weekend with an average of one million viewers on its first two nights, the New York Post reports. While that’s a much smaller audience than the one Oprah normally enjoys during her daytime talk show, it may be part of the plan.

“The strategy seemed that of a soft opening, aimed at whetting viewers’ appetites so they regularly come back and sample the network’s expanding menu of new shows as they roll out,” says an AP story.

Among all of Oprah Winfrey’s triumphs, those with a long memory will recall a few flops, such as her ABC program The Big Give. After the jump, an MSNBC segment analyzes the power of the Oprah brand and what she stands to lose if the network doesn’t live up to the high standard that has been set for it. The clip says she’s “one of the most influential tastemakers in the world” while also quoting analysts who say her “entire brand is on the line.”

Still, the safe bet is on OWN’s success.

Oprah has a fervent fan base that has made her one of the richest and most powerful media personalities on the planet and has put her friends and favorites on the map. Mediaite founder and former MSNBC GM Dan Abrams writes on his site that the network does well by tapping some of the recognizable names that she helped make famous. (And that he’s been her show a couple of times, of course.) And:

Weary Americans have grown fatigued with the national sports of bickering and finger pointing. Many are now seeking out a safe place on television far removed from the partisan hectoring, staged altercations, and alcohol-induced “hookups” that have come to dominate the airwaves. And advertisers are too.

Brands that Oprah singles out are “immediately transformed into brands who embody the positivity that Oprah promotes,” he adds.

Media specialists should keep a close watch on how OWN’s programming shapes up to determine the best ways and places to pitch. And if you can squeeze in a spot on The Oprah Winfrey Show before it ends in September, well done.

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