It all began with an Internet report that has the TV world buzzing that Winfrey may move her show to cable instead of keeping it on broadcast television.
But if the deal goes through, what does this mean for the stations who depend on the talk show titan for ratings?
It’s nearly decision time for Winfrey. By year’s-end, she’s expected to announce whether she’s leaving her network perch and moving to cable, to her very own network, aptly named “OWN,” the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Influential Hollywood blogger Nikki Finke says Winfrey will move her show to OWN by 2011.
Winfrey is viewed by over 6 million people daily, and is the No. 1-rated daytime talk show. When her contract expires in two years, she will have headlined her own show for a quarter of a century. Without her, many stations would lose their biggest daytime draw.
“Her loyal viewers are likely to move with her. It would have a negative impact, obviously, on the networks that currently air her show,” said Matthew Beloni of The Hollywood Reporter.
Winfrey’s production company, Harpo, denies rumors that a decision has been made, saying, “She will be making an announcement before the end of the year.” Meanwhile, the OWN network has reportedly been struggling for two years to get organized. Moving her show would clearly give the startup the visability it needs.
“Putting a big draw like Oprah Winfrey’s talk show on a network would be a huge step for any fledging network. Any network would love to have that,” Belloni added.
Winfrey’s deal with CBS Productions expires in 2011.
OWN, Ther Oprah Winfrey Network, was actually slated to start right about now, but there have been lots of management delays, so it hasn’t live yet