Oprah Winfrey is turning to Tyler Perry to give a boost to her fledgling network.
Own:Oprah Winfrey Network Monday reached an partnership with the actor/director to become the exclusive home of new Perry-produced sitcoms, including two new scripted series to premiere on the network in mid 2013, according to network officials.
Perry moves his successful sitcom formula to OWN from TBS, where he delivered three of the network’s most successful series in House Of Payne, Meet The Browns and For Better or Worse. In 2007 House of Payne, premiered as cable’s biggest comedy debut ever, only to be usurped by the 2008 premiere of Perry’s second series Meet the Browns.
“I have been looking forward to the day when we would be in the position to enter the world of scripted television. That day has come,” said Oprah Winfrey, CEO, OWN in a statement. “We are all energized by the opportunity to collaborate with Tyler who has a proven track record for producing highly successful cable series."
The deal also comes as the 21-month old OWN looks to increase viewers after a sluggish ratings start. The network closed its third consecutive quarter of year-over-year, double-digit ratings gains across primetime and total day in the key women 25-54 demo and saw triple-digit ratings growth in September, according to the network. With one week left in the third quarter, OWN averaged 323,000 viewers in primetime, up 51% over the 214,000 viewers during the same period last year, according to Nielsen.
“OWN’s growth over the past nine months has been nothing short of phenomenal and, with the continued support of our advertising and affiliate partners, this bold move into scripted entertainment positions OWN to continue that momentum going forward,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications, which holds a 50% stake in OWN.