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Oprah OWN Network Completes One-Month Anniversary

FRAZIER MOORE   01/28/11 06:14 PM ET   AP

Oprah

NEW YORK — As it nears its one-month mark, the Oprah Winfrey Network has grown its prime-time audience by one-third over the network it replaced.

OWN's all-day viewership is up 25 percent over the year-ago audience for Discovery Health, the channel OWN claimed when it signed on Jan. 1.

Christina Norman, the network's CEO, calls its first month "an encouraging start" and declares, "The idea works."

"The audience understands what this is supposed to be," she said Friday from the network's Los Angeles headquarters. "It is not a network built around a person. It's a network built around a person's world view."

That person, of course, is Oprah Winfrey, who is ending her weekday syndicated talk show this spring to concentrate full-time on her cable startup, which is available in 80 million homes.

An average of 297,000 viewers are watching OWN in prime time, with an average of 145,000 viewers tuned in during the full day, according to Nielsen Co. data measuring the network from Jan. 1 to Jan. 23.

The network launched with seven new series, six of which Norman said have made a promising start.

The exception is "Your OWN Show: Oprah's Search for the Next TV Star," which has experienced audience erosion.

"It hasn't really found its audience, and that's kind of a drag," said Norman. "But you live and learn."

Even so, it will air to its completion, with the winner of the competition awarded a show on OWN, as planned.

"Somebody's going to win, and somebody's life is really going to change," Norman said.

In February, the network will introduce "Our America With Lisa Ling" as well as "What Would You Do?," an acquisition from ABC News, plus two more real-life series originally set for a later debut: "Breaking Down the Bars," which takes viewers into a women's prison, and "Searching For...," which follows the work of a professional investigative genealogist.

In daytime, "The Gayle King Show" after two weeks on the air is attracting an average of 118,000 viewers for its two daily airings.

But OWN has announced that plans for another daytime venture, a talk show similar to ABC's "The View," have been scrapped.

"For me, it's about doubling down on what's working," Norman said. "We're focusing on Gayle and prime time. That's where our energy is best spent."

"The goal of OWN is to build it over the course of a year, as more new shows come on," she said, adding: "We're still telling people where OWN is."

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OWN is a joint venture between Harpo Inc. and Discovery Communications.

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Online:

http://www.oprah.com/own

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Filed by Jack Mirkinson  |