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Glenn Halbrooks

Oprah Winfrey Takes Risk with Launch of Cable TV Network

By December 23, 2010

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Oprah Winfrey isn't just daytime television's talk show queen, she's also a savvy businesswoman who's worth more than $2 billion. But on January 1, she'll take her biggest business gamble yet with the launch of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on cable TV.

A photo of television talk show host Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is preparing to launch a cable TV network.
Photo © Getty Images
The key question will be whether Winfrey can take what viewers can't resist about her daily one-hour show and turn it into a 24-hour a day cable channel. Even Winfrey herself has confessed that this venture has been somewhat scary to pursue.

Take a look at OWN's programming lineup and you'll see plenty of familiar faces -- Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Suze Orman and Winfrey's best friend Gayle King -- which should get the channel some initial buzz. But viewers might be disappointed at the lack of Oprah sightings on the network.

It's too much to expect Winfrey to run the show and appear in every program. But with her syndicated talk show ending its 25-year run in September, her loyal viewers will be looking to see her face and not just her name.

OWN is also not immune from the dangers of any cable channel launch. While it targets the female audience, that same demographic has plenty of other women-focused cable channels to watch, such as Lifetime and WE tv. Because OWN is taking the slot currently occupied by Discovery Health Channel, it won't have to fight just to get on cable TV systems. But it will have to find an audience in the less-desirable higher channel numbers.

Plenty of money and planning have gone into the launch of OWN. The results will show whether everything Winfrey touches will turn to TV gold.

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