Oprah's rebounding OWN adds 2 hot soap operas
Winfrey's cable network is picking up the online reboots of 'One Life to Live' and 'All My Children' as things start turning around.
OWN, which is partially held by Discovery Communications (DISCA), expects to be profitable this year as viewership continues to surge, thanks to its partnership with filmaker Tyler Perry. According to the Los Angeles Times, ratings are up 30% since 2011. The channel remains hugely popular among its core demographic of African-American women ages 25-54. Now, OWN is betting that adding two soap operas will help it add even more viewers.
OWN is picking up "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" (pictured), two soaps that were rebooted online after being canceled by Walt Disney's (DIS) ABC network. They'll get a 10-week run, according to The Hollywood Reporter. It's a smart move, given the genre's enduring popularity, especially among women. Both "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" get top rankings on Hulu and Apple's (AAPL) iTunes.
Though OWN hasn't said whether it will add more episodes if the shows prove popular, odds are strong that would happen. The demise of soap operas, which many pundits predicted, hasn't happened. Instead, the soaps on broadcast networks all reported gains in total viewers from June 10 to June 14, according to Nielsen.
Among the genre's fans is Winfrey. She had Genie Francis and Anthony Geary, better known to fans of ABC's "General Hospital" as Luke and Laura, as guests on her old talk show. When the soaps were originally canceled, she rebuffed overtures from fans that she put them on her channel.
Of course, they're now grateful for Winfrey's change of heart.
OWN's future had seemed bleak. As Bloomberg Businessweek noted in 2012, the network may have lost as much as $330 million from its start in 2008 through the end of 2011.
Shares of Discovery traded up Thursday morning, gaining 91 cents to $76.63 and have climbed more than 43% this year.
Jonathan Berr doesn't own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter@jdberr.
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Reports say the generous benefactor behind the huge gratuities is a former PayPal executive.
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