Speaking of which, has Oprah overextended her brand? It was announced today that the boss at Discovery Communications–the company that put $140 million into the OWN launch–has been brought in to run the new Oprah network. Peter Liguori has been named the Interim Chief Executive Officer, replacing Christine Norman, gone less than five months after OWN launched (and less than two months after it launched in Canada). Everything’s very cordial in today’s OWN press release, but according to the New York Times, the decision to sack Norman came a few weeks ago by the OWN board, dissatisfied with ratings at the fledgling specialty channel. After a highly publicized launch, OWN ratings Stateside have settled slightly higher than where they were when the channel was known as Discovery Health. The OWN board expected better.
Liguori is one savvy scheduler, having guided Fox to No. 1 network status among 18 to 49-year-olds before being bounced for not being related to Rupert Murdoch.
The OWN brand may get a boost this month with the launch of Why Not? with Shania Twain, which premieres Friday, May 13 at 9 p.m. Twain–usually more secluded than bin Laden–is working it, appearing on Marilyn Denis , George Stroumboulopoulos and Canada AM on Monday to promote the series as well as her new book.
Still, it seems Oprah viewers most want to see Oprah. Her daytime syndicated talk show signs off May 25. Her new, three times a week series for OWN, Oprah’s Next Chapter, was to have launched this fall but Liguori now says it won’t appear until 2012. Seems Oprah needs a break, and after 25 years, she’s earned one. Still, without Oprah, OWN is just a whole lotta What Now?
A lack of audience hasn’t stopped media companies from launching channels in Canada. Witness Sun News Network. With the election over and summer ahead, bring on the beachballs and Sunshine girls!
|Ahoy: Disney Junior’s Jake and the Never Land Pirates|
Another channel launches today on specialty: Disney Junior brings the iconic family brand to Canada. This one is more of a re-boot, with Astral re-branding electronic babysitter Playhouse Disney under the new shingle. Classic Disney characters are part of the new mix, including Peter Pan baddie Captain Hook and Mr. Smee in Jake and the Never Land Pirates. Tori Spelling, Lisa Loeb and David Arquette are among the voice cast. Arquette better have sworn off the rum, or this Pirate tale will be rated “RRrrrrr.”
Another show finds celebrity moms Katie Holmes and Jennifer Garner narrating poems to tots. If I’m three, I’d rather see The Big Comfy Couch Jumping Show with Tom Cruise. See, everything relates back to Oprah.
Disney Junior is up and running as of today and can be found on Rogers Cable in the GTA on Playhouse Disney’s old channel 68.