The money angle is important for the beleaguered joint venture between Discovery and Oprah Winfrey. That’s why the big news from today’s announcement — even if it isn’t in the official release — is that Comcast is going to start paying for OWN beginning in January, as it increases its distribution of the channel to about 17M homes from the current 14M. Comcast hadn’t paid for the channel going back to its pre-2011 incarnation as Discovery Health. Some info about the deal leaked over the weekend. The Comcast arrangement will bring OWN up to about 85M homes. While specific terms are still under wraps, OWN’s recent deals have run about three years, and start at 20 cents per subscriber per month. That’s a vast improvement from the current rate which SNL Kagan estimates at about two cents. The channel’s backers are eager to get its finances in order: The recent cancellation of Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show and lay off of 30 employees could save OWN about $40M. SNL Kagan recently said that OWN could lose $142.9M this year, but Discovery responded that the analysis was “riddled with inaccuracies and bad information.”
Here’s today’s announcement:
OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network announced today a distribution deal with Comcast Cable, one of the nation’s leading providers of entertainment, information and communications products and services that extends Comcast’s existing carriage of OWN. Specific details of the multi-year agreement were not disclosed.
“OWN was the 29th network in prime for women in March and had double digit rating increases across demos in all day parts. We are seeing real momentum,” said Erik Logan, President, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. “We’re pleased to partner with Comcast to bring its customers OWN’s quality programming and appreciate the support from our affiliate and advertiser partners who recognize the brand strength we are building in OWN.”
OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network has posted first quarter growth across all key demos in both primetime and total day, with primetime up +14% in the key demo (women25-54) and total day up +25% W25-54 versus year ago numbers (December 26 – March 25). For the month of March, the network also notched double-digit growth across all key demos in both primetime and total day. Primetime ratings were up +50% W25-54, up +34% in households and +35% in total viewers, with total day up +42% W25-54, +38% HH and +37% total viewers versus year ago numbers. OWN improved its standing among 97 ad-supported cable networks, climbing to #29 in primetime and #30 in total day in W25-54.
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