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.

New shows in 2013 will include BLACKBOARD WARS, GOLDEN SISTERS, RAISING WHITLEY, and DOGFELLAS, along with the network's new venture into scripted programming. Tyler Perry will work with OWN as a writer for new scripted programs THE HAVES AND HAVE NOTS and LOVE THY NEIGHBOR.  Also, Perry's sitcom FOR BETTER OR WORSE has been picked up as an acquisition for the new year.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / February 2013 vs. February 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

OWN continued steadily into 2013 with plenty of original series premieres for their target female demographic. Both the 18-49 and 25-54 female age demos tuned in for original OWN programming, and acquisitions such as 48 HOURS: HARD EVIDENCE started losing viewers.

Mondays typically offer blocks of DATELINE ON OWN, but this survey saw a big hitter at the very end of January. The premiere episode of OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER featuring an interview with Cissy Houston was the second highest rated individual telecast among women of both age groups. This helped Monday nights show some significant gains over last month and last year.

OUR AMERICA W/ LISA LING took a strong residency on Tuesday nights and each week aired a block of encores leading into premiere episodes at 10pm. This show, which is in its second season, returned last month with premiere episodes after a four-month hiatus.  Viewership has dropped from last month, but the steady schedule helped push Tuesday nights on an upswing both monthly and annually.

Wednesdays and Thursdays were the lowest rated nights among both female age demos. These nights, which aired the used-to-be-reliable acquisitions 48 HOURS: HARD EVIDENCE and DATELINE ON OWN, saw demo losses, telling us that these shows are becoming less watched than OWN originals. Thursday nights the continued schedule of DATELINE ON OWN blocks mostly lost among women 18-49 which dropped 10% from last year.

Friday nights experienced some pleasant annual gains, but the numbers for POLICE WOMEN were not much better than what the network saw on the previous two nights. POLICE WOMEN OF DALLAS took up most of the schedule and aired 3 premieres during February, but the program showed a loss in viewership from last month, resulting in the night experiencing double-digit monthly losses.

This month at OWN the biggest standout occurred on Saturdays with a rise in popularity of the network original series UNFAITHFUL: STORIES OF BETRAYAL. This show, now in its second season, resonated strongly with viewers in February, and every episode premiere was among the top 20 individual telecasts for both female demos. Season 2 actually premiered a full year ago, in February 2012, but went on hiatus at the end of March. Encores had popped up in the schedule all year, but viewers haven’t had a new episode until this month. Somehow this hiatus worked in the show’s favor, and the program gained 25% of women 25-54 over last year, and a whopping 150% in that same demo over repeats last month. Brand new original series BLACKBOARD WARS premiered two weeks early and garnered some very strong ratings, landing it among the top individual telecasts for the month. It's premiere date was bumped up to be led-in by the OPRAH'S NEXT CHAPTER interview with Beyonce, which was the top rated telecast of the month. The success of these two shows helped Saturday become the highest rated night of the week and saw very comfortable gains both monthly and annually.

Sunday’s primetime schedule swapped each week with either a block of OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER encores, or OPRAH’S LIFECLASS. The latter of these aired 2 premiere episodes this month, but the show’s popularity has plummeted. Encore episodes of OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER brought slightly better numbers, but overall, Sunday nights were among the lowest rated nights of the week. Annual and monthly losses were significant, but oddly saw a 22% annual gain among women 18-49. This demo was pleased with the night of the 17th, which aired repeat episodes of OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER featuring interviews with Rihanna and Beyonce.

In March, OWN will premiere seasons 2 of OPRAH’S MASTERCLASS and OPRAH: WHERE ARE THEY NOW? The month will also continue with premiere primetime episodes of OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER, OUR AMERICA W/ LISA LING, POLICE WOMEN OF DALLAS, and BLACKBOARD WARS.