Will Oprah’s Network Be Shifting Direction?

by | December 8, 2011 at 2:13 PM | Oprah Winfrey, OWN

Oprah Winfrey. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

Oprah Winfrey. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

We’ve talked about the OWN’s struggle to attract viewers, but it seems that one show of theirs is doing well, and it may be persuading the channel’s executives to shift the network’s direction.

Stories in both ADWEEK and the Wall Street Journal discuss how executives at Discovery, who owns OWN, have been looking at the ratings for their most-watched show, “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s,” and are thinking that they may try to attract African-American audiences with their future programming decisions.

“Sweetie Pie’s” is a reality show about a mini-chain of soul food restaurants in St. Louis, run by Robbie Montgomery, a former backup singer for Ike and Tina Turner, and her son Tim. According to ADWEEK, the show is attracting 418,000 viewers, which is almost double their average prime-time viewership.

“”We now have a new opportunity to tell the story to different advertisers that didn’t think about buying OWN if you’re trying to market your clients in an African-American marketplace,” network president Erik Logan told ADWEEK. He told the trade publication, though, that they are not going to make a complete change in direction; they’re just responding to what viewers have responded to.

We imagine, though, that Oprah Winfrey is not going to allow the network to wedge itself into a niche. As the article states, Oprah has built a broad-appeal brand the last quarter-century, and she’s not about to narrow her marketing now. But shows like “The Rosie Show” haven’t worked, and most end-of-the-dial cable networks have had to find a niche in order to survive. Even Oprah may have to see the realities of cable programming at some point if she wants OWN to succeed.

Watch an episode of “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s”:

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