Launching A Cable Network Is No Easy Task

It used to be that when viewers turned on their tv’s they had the big three networks to choose from (NBC,ABC,CBS), but that is no longer the case, and it hasn’t been for decades.  Since the advent of cable television more channels have popped up that offered a more unique and targeted viewership, with networks like The History Channel and SyFy providing niche programming that wasn’t available back when the big three ruled the airwaves.  What is rarely talked about is how much work and effort it takes to launch a new cable network , but this week the queen of daytime talk, Oprah Winfrey, discussed the challenges that come along with starting a network.  As many are aware, Oprah ended her historic talk show in 2011 while simultaneously launching her cable network OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network).  OWN has struggled in it’s freshman year to not only find viewers, but more importantly to find content.  The network has aired mainly documentaries and reality tv style programming despite Oprah’s motivation behind the network being that she wanted to provide informative, educational entertainment and not the mindless drivel that is found on so many other stations.  After a slew of such “drivel”, Oprah made a bold move bringing Rosie O’Donell back to television with her own talk show on the network, a talk show which failed to perform and was cancelled a few months ago after just four months on the air.  Oprah recently spoke about her experience starting up a network with CBS stating “had I known that it was this difficult, I might have done something else.”  She then went on to say “I didn’t think it was going to be easy, but I did not know…. If I knew then what I know now, I might have made some different choices.”  Winfrey went on to talk about how she felt that OWN wasn’t prepared to launch at the time it did, as she was ending her daytime talk show and couldn’t devote the attention necessary to successfully launch a network.  While OWN is by no means considered a failure, it is in it’s second year of operation and is projected to lose money for the second year in a row.  Like many things, however, profit is very rarely scene immediately out of the gate, but come this time next year if there is no improvement or cohesive plan than I wouldn’t be surprised to see Oprah pick up her talk show on the network to help attract viewers, either that or it closes up shop.

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