Thoughtful Oprah Winfrey isn’t launching her new cable network until noon on New Year’s Day, perhaps in recognition of the fact that many of us will be opting to sleep late the morning after New Year’s Eve.
As it happens, a launch of such significance – an entirely new cable network developed by the most influential personality on TV – is a rarity for a Saturday, much less a sleepy holiday. It’s possible that Oprah felt the first day of the new year was somehow more appropriate for this “new beginning” than Monday, Jan. 3.
Whatever the reasons, Oprah herself will be seen at noon Saturday ushering in the new era of OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network. In case you haven’t heard (which seems unlikely, given all the pre-launch publicity), OWN is a creation of Oprah and Discovery Networks, parent company of about a dozen cable networks, one of which, Discovery Health, is being replaced by this new one.
The first show you’ll see on OWN is titled “Oprah’s Guide to OWN: The New Oprah Winfrey Network.” It’s a one-hour introduction to the network led by Oprah herself. After that, the lineup for Day One consists mainly of “Sneak Peeks” of various OWN shows. Check out the schedule for yourself here.
Before the network officially comes to life at noon on New Year’s Day, there will be 12 hours of clips and previews all under the umbrella title of “Countdown to OWN,” starting at midnight (just when you’ll be watching the ball drop on ABC or waiting for Kathy Griffin to drop some profanity on CNN).
For the historical record, Discovery Health will end its existence just before the onset of “Countdown to OWN” with a rebroadcast of “The 8-Limbed Boy,” a show about a boy born with unusual physical characteristics. Launched in 1999, Discovery Health has had a handful of its own series, but it’s also been a place where series from other Discovery-owned networks, particularly TLC, were re-run (most notably, all those TLC shows about the morbidly obese).
We’ll miss some of the Discovery Health shows, especially “Mystery Diagnosis,” the show featuring people with illnesses that baffled their doctors, and “Dr. G.: Medical Examiner,” starring TV’s toughest real-life forensic pathologist, Jan “Dr. G” Garavaglia.
As for OWN, the entire TV business is keenly interested to see if one of the biggest stars of the broadcast world can become just as successful on cable. How this story plays itself out will be one of the biggest stories in TV in the year to come.
Will you be watching OWN?