Oprah Winfrey is getting her own TV network. OWN - for Oprah Winfrey Network - will debut next year in nearly 70 million homes with cable and satellite, part of a deal announced on Tuesday with Discovery Communications. It will replace the Discovery Health network.
The announcement builds a media empire that already includes the top-rated TV talk show, a magazine, a satellite radio network, a Web site and TV movies made under her banner.
"This is an evolution of what I've been able to do every day," Winfrey said. "I will now have the opportunity to do this 24 hours a day on a platform that goes on forever."
She will be chairwoman of the network, owned 50-50 by Discovery and her company, Harpo Productions Inc. In return for taking over a network already operated by Discovery, Winfrey gives half ownership of the Oprah.Com Web site.
Discovery owns 13 networks in the United States, including Discovery, TLC and Animal Planet. Discovery Health is one of the least successful, and company President and CEO David Zaslav was looking for ideas about what to do with it when his wife handed him a copy of Oprah's magazine.
He approached Winfrey about a partnership, coincidentally shortly after she had come upon an entry for her diary dated May 24, 1992, when she wrote about her idea for creating her own network.
"David came and really spoke about the vision I'd been having for 15 years," she said. "It felt like, `I can't believe you're saying this.'"
Zaslav said that Discovery's core mission is knowledge and curiosity and "this is right in our sweet spot.