by Lisette Livingston
Talk show queen and media superstar Oprah Winfrey may be ending an era when she ends her show on 2011 but by starting a new cable network, Winfrey is embarking on a whole new era.
In a heart-felt message to her viewers, Winfrey, holding back tears last week, talked about why she decided to end her show after a quarter of a century on the air.
“These years with you, our viewers, have enriched my life beyond all measure. And you all have graciously invited me into your living rooms, into your kitchens and into your lives. And for some of you longtime Oprah viewers, you have literally “grown up” with me—we’ve grown together. You had your families, and you raised your children and you left a spot for me in your morning or your afternoon, depending on when The Oprah Show airs in your town.
“So I just wanted to say that whether you’ve been here with me from the beginning or you came on board last week, I want you all to know that my relationship with you is one that I hold very dear. And your trust in me, the sharing of your precious time every day with me has brought me the greatest joy I have ever known.
“So here we are, halfway through the season, 24, and it still means as much to me to spend an hour every day with you as it did back in 1986. So why walk away and make next season the last? Here is the real reason: I love this show. This show has been my life. And I love it enough to know when it’s time to say good-bye…So I hope that you will take this 18-month ride with me right through to the final show,” she said. But after production wraps up on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Winfrey plans to appear and participate in new programming for , a 24-hour cable network that reflects her vision, values and interests. The launch date for OWN, a joint venture with Discovery Communications, is now set for January 2011. OWN will debut in approximately 80 million homes. The venture also will include the award-winning digital platform, Oprah.com.
“Oprah has been nourishing people through her television show for nearly 25 years, a legacy that has touched millions the world over,” said Christina Norman, CEO of OWN. “She is the life force behind OWN and will be guiding the effort for this com pletely new 24-hour television experience premiering in January 2011,” he said.
In reference to the announcement, Discovery Communications President and CEO David Zaslav said, “There is no bigger brand in media than Oprah Winfrey. She has changed the broadcast landscape and how people consume television. Along the way, she impacted our culture and touched us all. We congratulate her and our friends at Harpo for their many achievements, and their years of creating truly ground-breaking television. Discovery Communications has a tremendous partner in Oprah, and we look forward to bringing her and her creative vision, programming and unique voice to approximately 80 million homes on OWN, as well as online through the award-winning Oprah.com.”
On Harpo.com, OWN is described as a “network of self-discovery, connecting people to each other and to their greatest potential. We tell real life stories that are emotional and entertaining. We present moments of transformation that inspire action. We give you the tools to fuel your own self-discovery and live your best life.”
OWN will target adults between the ages of 18 and 49. Programming will include a mix of nonfiction, short form programming, movies, documentaries, and acquisitions and the project will be headquartered in Los Angeles, CA.
Launched nationally in 1986, is viewed by an estimated 42 million viewers each week in the United States.* Oprah and The Oprah Winfrey Show have received 48 Daytime Emmy Awards®, including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998. The Oprah Winfrey Show has remained the number one talk show for 23 consecutive seasons, winning every sweep since its debut in 1986.** It is produced in Chicago by Harpo Productions, Inc. and syndicated to 215 domestic stations by CBS Television Distribution and to 145 countries by CBS Studios International.
Harpo Productions, Inc. produces the number one–rated, award-winning The Oprah Winfrey Show; creates and develops original TV programming for primetime, syndication and cable television; and operates Oprah.com (), a premier lifestyle website. ZoCo Productions, LLC, an affiliate of Harpo Productions, Inc., and Sony Pictures Television co-produce . Harpo Print, LLC and Hearst Magazines publish the monthly publication. produces feature films and, through an exclusive deal with HBO, scripted television programming. Harpo Radio, Inc. produces (XM channel 156, Sirius channel 195 as part of its “Best of XM” package) on Sirius XM Radio.