Oprah Winfrey ending syndication in 2011


The on-air announcement will come Friday on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” but the talk show host let her staff know Thursday and Harpo Productions began notifying affiliates. Oprah Winfrey will end her 25-year run in syndication in September 2011.

That, however, is not likely to be the end of Oprah on television. Not renewing her contract with CBS Television Distribution will leave Winfrey free to create a new show on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, which is a joint venture of her Harpo Productions and Discovery Communications. Speculation that Winfrey would exit syndication when her current contract expires had heated up since early this month when she named Lisa Erspamer, co-executive producer of the syndicated show, to be Chief Creative Officer of OWN.

ABC O&O WLS-TV Chicago, which is the flagship for The Oprah Winfrey Show, reported on its website Thursday evening that Winfrey’s last show on broadcast television will be September 9, 2011. Many of the show’s largest market affiliates are ABC O&Os, dating back to when the syndicator was King World, subsequently acquired by CBS.

RBR-TVBR observation: Yes, that will be a big hole for affiliates to fill. The Oprah Winfrey Show is a daytime ratings blockbuster. But disappointed affiliates should at least thank her for giving them 22 months to make plans for her departure.