OWN network is starting to turn a corner as its ratings have improved and Oprah Winfrey shows up more often on screen.
Atlanta’s Tyler Perry has already begun working on series for the network in an exclusive production deal announced a month ago. (The first is an hour-long drama called “The Haves and the Have Nots,” set to be shot in Atlanta next spring, according to this casting call.)
Discovery CEO David Zaslav told analysts this morning that OWN was “much too teachy and preachy and earnest when we started… The audience said, ‘We want to have fun.’ ”
Perry will help now that the channel “has begun to find a rhythm,” he said, according to deadline.com.
OWN, which launched nearly two years ago, has been sucking hundreds of millions out of Discovery’s pocket but is closing the gap. It had to spend $29 million in the third quarter alone. Discovery has wrangled higher affiliate rates from cable and satellite companies so OWN should start standing on its own soon.
Zaslav said a recent interview by Oprah with Rihanna drew more black women than all the major broadcast networks combined. (Most shows featuring Oprah tend to do best on the network, not surprisingly, although “Iyanla, Fix My Life” has done relatively well, too.)
For Perry, the deal with Oprah is a smart move since TBS, his first programming partner for TV, is veering away from his type of entertainment targeting African Americans. Plus, it’s far cheaper and less risky for him at this point than starting his own network, a goal he has talked about in the past.