Oprah Launches Oprah Mobile

With the launch of Oprah Mobile, the daytime TV queen appears to be laying the groundwork for a bigger push into digital media in advance of the debut of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on cable TV next year.

The App, optimized for the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Palm Pre phones, offers a window into Oprah’s media empire — including clips and previews from “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” weekly polls, articles and photos from O, The Oprah Magazine and Oprah.com, and her Twitter updates.

Released by Winfrey’s Harpo Studios, the Oprah Mobile app sells for $1.99 in the App Store. A spokesperson for the studio said Monday the app may extend to OWN, though it’s not yet decided. But that seems like a pretty good bet, given the increased emphasis her forthcoming cable channel will place on digital distribution. Robert Tercek, president of digital media for OWN, said the project will build new media into programming from the ground up.
He also noted that OWN would carry over the core of a digital audience from past efforts like periodic live Web broadcasts of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Oprah Mobile would seem to fit that strategy to help cultivate a wider digital audience via smartphone users, which are estimated to make up as much as a quarter of all U.S. mobile subscribers.

Down the road, it’s not hard to envision a comparable Oprah app for the iPad to showcase her various properties and extend live programming and interactive features, including m-commerce, to mobile devices. Tercek last month waxed enthusiastic about the Apple tablet, pointing out the advantage it has over any competing gadget because it comes with the ability to run existing iPhone apps (which would now include Oprah Mobile).

Tercek will have to make sure Oprah doesn’t get too out in front of her audience — which he acknowledged isn’t exactly the early-adopter crowd — in embracing new mobile and digital tools. No need to worry about impressing Apple fanboys.

Offering Oprah Mobile for free instead of charging might’ve been a good way to start, for instance, but the new cable network’s creators will have to test different approaches and learn as they roll out Oprah 2.0.


Oprah To Start Her “OWN” Network

Could the “Queen of Daytime Television” be leaving her throne?
Rumors are rampant that Oprah Winfrey may move her syndicated talk show to her own Network. I believe this could rock television.

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