Oprah Winfrey Network Analysis



Now in its third year, the Oprah Winfrey Network continues to evolve with a mixture of original series, syndicated acquisitions, and plenty of programs starring the woman in charge. 2013 will also see the network’s first foray into the realm of scripted series.

The weeknight schedule is always subject to change, with some original series premieres (OUR AMERICA W/ LISA LING on Tuesdays; POLICE WOMEN on Fridays), but most nights showcase varied series repeats and specials. Acquisitions such as DATELINE and 48 HOURS: HARD EVIDENCE continue to round out the schedule. The familiarity of these programs is utilized in primetime blocks to boost mid-week ratings, along with being used as lead-ins to original series.

Saturday nights are dedicated to original reality series premieres. Shows such as IYANLA, FIX MY LIFE and WELCOME TO SWEETIE PIES have helped keep the network on a ratings upswing over the last year. Oprah night is Sunday, when she airs an assortment of programs starring herself, including OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER and OPRAH’S LIFECLASS.

Themes such as self-help, family, and inspiration can be found in Oprah’s original shows guaranteeing the viewer a positive and rewarding experience while watching OWN.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / January 2013 vs. January 2012  (% Change)




Monday 8-11pm




Tuesday 8-11pm




Wednesday 8-11pm




Thursday 8-11pm




Friday 8-11pm




Saturday 8-11pm




Sunday 8-11pm




MTWTFSS 8-11pm




Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Oprah began 2013 in full force using her flagship show to its fullest extent. OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER had some very high profile interviews in January and gave the show a surge in ratings and status. With the loss of popular original reality series IYANLA: FIX MY LIFE and WELCOME TO SWEETIE PIES from the schedule this month, OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER easily became the network’s most watched program.

DATELINE ON OWN holds a residency on Monday nights and this month saw a gain over December. Tuesdays offered a varied schedule each week of this survey with repeat episodes of self-help related programming. The 22nd, however, welcomed back OUR AMERICA W/ LISA LING, which received strong numbers and helped push Tuesdays on an upswing from December. The night also saw a slight annual gain among women 25-54.

The middle of the workweek saw a schedule shift this month. 48 HOURS: HARD EVIDENCE moved from Thursday to Wednesday for two weeks of this survey. The other two Wednesdays were coupon-themed and aired blocks of EXTREME COUPONING and SUPER SAVER SHOWDOWN. After significantly poor numbers on the 9th, SUPER SAVER SHOWDOWN does not have any future episodes on the schedule at this time. Wednesday nights showed a ratings loss across the board both monthly and annually.

Thursday was by far the highest rated night of the month. This can be attributed to three weeks of the popular acquisition DATELINE ON OWN leading into the brand new original reality show LOST AND FOUND, along with the highly anticipated and strongly advertised Part 1 of the Lance Armstrong interview on OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER on the 17th. This episode easily landed the network’s top telecast for the month and Thursdays saw triple digit gains in all categories both monthly and annually.

These gains were infectious and Fridays saw positive numbers as well. POLICE WOMEN held on to its regular Friday night timeslot, with one exception on the 18th. A block of OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER repeated Part 1 of the Lance Armstrong interview, and premiered Part 2 at 9PM. According to OWN, Part 2 “marked the highest Friday telecast in OWN history across the key demos”.

The January schedule at OWN removed all airings of IYANLA, FIX MY LIFE and WELCOME TO SWEETIE PIES to make room for other new original programming to test their legs on Saturday nights. Unfortunately SIX LITTLE MCGHEES and STATEN ISLAND LAW did not draw quite as many viewers as the aforementioned programs, and Saturdays saw double-digit ratings losses in almost every category both monthly and annually.

On Sundays in January, OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER invited some prominent guests to help elevate ratings, and it worked. Interviews with David Letterman, LL Cool J, and Drew Barrymore, all pulled relatively strong numbers and gave OWN a slight end-of-the-week boost that it needed. Despite this, the night showed some double-digit annual losses, and the monthly change was just about flat.

The month of February will continue with new episodes of original shows OUR AMERICA W/ LISA LING, LOST AND FOUND and OPRAH’S LIFECLASS.