D.M. Levine is a staff writer for Adweek.
Executives at OWN think they may have found a way to salvage Oprah Winfrey’s struggling network: by catering more to an African-American audience. That may help ratings, but it would mean a dramatic shift, and one that could put the channel at odds with Winfrey’s own brand.
According to OWN president Erik Logan and Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav, the silver lining in an otherwise bleak performance record for the network since its launch last January is that it’s performing particularly well among its African-American audience members—especially with a reality show called Welcome to Sweetie Pies that premiered in October.“Anytime you have a program that pops like Sweetie Piesdid, you start looking at what drove it,” Logan told Adweek. “And we saw that the African-American audience really had a connection with that show. . . . We’re going to look at ways to nurture and grow that.”
Since Welcome to Sweetie Pies premiered, OWN has enjoyed an average prime-time viewership of around 216,000 people. Sweetie Pies has seen an average audience of around 418,000, making it the highest rated show on the network by far in that period.
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