Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications to Form New Joint Venture: 'OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network'
OWN to Premiere in 2009 with Distribution in 70 Million U.S. Homes Will Be
Simulcast in HD and Includes the Power of Oprah.com
CHICAGO and SILVER SPRING, Md., Jan. 15 -- In an
unprecedented deal, Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications announced
plans today to create "OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network." The new
multi-platform media venture will be designed to entertain, inform and
inspire people to live their best lives. OWN will debut in 2009 in more
than 70 million homes, on what is currently the Discovery Health Channel.
The venture will also include the award-winning digital platform,
"Fifteen years ago, I wrote in my journal that one day I would create a
television network, as I always felt my show was just the beginning of what
the future could hold," said Oprah Winfrey, who will serve as chairman of
OWN. "For me, the launch of 'The Oprah Winfrey Network' is the evolution of
the work I've been doing on television all these years and a natural
extension of my show."
"There is no stronger voice than Oprah Winfrey in engaging, motivating
and connecting people to live healthier lives. Oprah has inspired me
personally, and through this new venture, Oprah's talent and drive will
have a dedicated multimedia platform to empower, engage and connect with
people on-air and on- line," said David Zaslav, President and CEO of
Discovery Communications. "At Discovery, our goals are to improve the
quality of the networks while expanding the reach and success of our web
presence. This venture does both, and having Oprah as Chairman and creative
leader makes OWN a very unique property in a crowded media landscape."
OWN's mission is to create multiple platforms for women, men and their
families with a purpose and a passion: to celebrate life, to inspire and
entertain, empowering viewers around the world to live their best lives,
and by doing so, lift the lives of those around them in ever-widening
In addition to providing her talent, and personal commitment, Winfrey
will have full editorial control over the joint venture and will be
responsible for OWN's programming, branding and creative vision.
Winfrey will serve as Chairman of The Oprah Winfrey Network, LLC and
the venture will be 50/50 owned by Discovery and Harpo. This is a cashless
transaction and The Oprah Winfrey Network, LLC will be an independent
Discovery Communications will contribute to the venture the Discovery
Health Channel as well as handle distribution, origination and other
operational requirements for the proposed venture. Both organizations will
contribute advertising sales services to the venture.
The search for OWN's Chief Executive Officer to oversee day-to-day
venture operations will begin immediately.
Oprah.com offers extensive expert advice, interactive workbooks,
photos, video, inspirational stories, books and features to more than six
million unique visitors with more than 80 million page views per month.
Since its launch in 1999, Discovery Health has given viewers access to
the world of medicine, health and wellness through voices of experience and
stories of inspiration. Historically, the ratings and audience share for
Discovery Health has been less than 20% of the total ratings of viewers
watching the Discovery Channel or TLC.
Additional information regarding the formation of "OWN: The Oprah
Winfrey Network" will be available on a media conference call -- with Oprah
Winfrey and David Zaslav -- which is being held today, January 15, at 1:00
p.m. Eastern / 12:00 p.m. Central / 10:00 a.m. Pacific. The call may be
accessed by dialing 866-725-8019 (for domestic callers) or 702-477-6075
(for international callers) and using the conference ID: 31240348.
Harpo Productions, Inc. produces the number one rated, award-winning
"The Oprah Winfrey Show," creates and develops original TV programming, and
operates Oprah.com, a premier women's lifestyle website. Harpo Print, LLC
and Hearst Magazines publish the monthly O, The Oprah Magazine and
quarterly O at Home publications. Harpo Films, Inc. produces feature films
as well as top- rated telefilms under the "Oprah Winfrey Presents" banner.
Harpo Radio, Inc. produces "Oprah & Friends" (Channel 156) on XM Satellite
About Discovery Communications
Discovery Communications is the number-one nonfiction media company
reaching more than 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers in over 170
countries. Discovery's 100-plus worldwide networks are led by Discovery
Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, The Science Channel, Discovery Health and HD
Theater, with digital media properties including HowStuffWorks.com.
Discovery Communications is owned by Discovery Holding Company (Nasdaq:
DISCA, DISCB), Advance/Newhouse Communications and John S. Hendricks,
Discovery's founder and chairman. For more information, please visit
SOURCE Discovery Communications