In an unprecedented deal, Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications announced plans today to create OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. The new multi-platform media venture will be designed to entertain, inform and inspire people to live their best lives. OWN will debut in 2009 in more than 70 million homes, on what is currently the Discovery Health Channel. The venture will also include the award-winning digital platform, Oprah.com.
"Fifteen years ago, I wrote in my journal that one day I would create a television network, as I always felt my show was just the beginning of what the future could hold," said Oprah Winfrey, who will serve as chairman of OWN. "For me, the launch of The Oprah Winfrey Network is the evolution of the work I've been doing on television all these years and a natural extension of my show."
"There is no stronger voice than Oprah Winfrey in engaging, motivating and connecting people to live healthier lives. Oprah has inspired me personally, and through this new venture, Oprah's talent and drive will have a dedicated multimedia platform to empower, engage and connect with people on-air and on-line," said David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Communications. "At Discovery, our goals are to improve the quality of the networks while expanding the reach and success of our web presence. This venture does both, and having Oprah as Chairman and creative leader makes OWN a very unique property in a crowded media landscape."
OWN's mission is to create multiple platforms for women, men and their families with a purpose and a passion: to celebrate life, to inspire and entertain, empowering viewers around the world to live their best lives, and by doing so, lift the lives of those around them in ever-widening circles.
In addition to providing her talent, and personal commitment, Winfrey will have full editorial control over the joint venture and will be responsible for OWN's programming, branding and creative vision.
Winfrey will serve as Chairman of The Oprah Winfrey Network, LLC and the venture will be 50/50 owned by Discovery and Harpo. This is a cashless transaction and The Oprah Winfrey Network, LLC will be an independent company.
Discovery Communications will contribute to the venture the Discovery Health Channel as well as handle distribution, origination and other operational requirements for the proposed venture. Both organizations will contribute advertising sales services to the venture.
The search for OWN's Chief Executive Officer to oversee day-to-day venture operations will begin immediately.