OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network to get carriage overseas?


Three months after Oprah Winfrey’s OWN channel premiered here in the US to tepid ratings, executives from Discovery Communications, co-owner of the network with Oprah’s production company Harpo Productions, said early discussions have been held with distributors in foreign markets, adding that they expected talks to turn more serious later in the year. OWN is also currently seen in Canada.

“We’re confident there are markets it will do well in,” Mark Hollinger, who heads up Discovery’s international business, said at a presentation 4/15. “We’re confident there will be an international launch of the channel…We’ve said, ‘Let’s focus on the U.S. for now; we’ll tend to this a little later this year’.”

Looks like both companies are confident that ratings will improve enough to make overseas carriage deals worthwhile. Winfrey is expected to devote more energy to OWN in the coming months after the last original episode of her syndicated show, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” airs on 5/25.

A Reuters story noted that Discovery’s plans for OWN are part of its increasing effort to build up its business abroad. CEO David Zaslav spends up to 40% his time outside the US, he said, visiting markets such as Chile, Romania, Russia and India. Five years ago, only 10% of its business came from overseas markets. Today, one-third of it does.