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8 things OWN could do to boost its ratings

The Queen of Daytime

When Oprah first announced that she would be launching OWN I was ecstatic.   I literally marked the days on my calendar leading up to the big premier.   “Just 11 more days until OWN!” one of my calendar items read.

However, since its launch, OWN has under-performed in the ratings.   While it has done better than the channel it replaced, it’s still struggling to bring in more than 500 thousand viewers on a consistent basis.   This is a stark contrast to the tens of millions of viewers Oprah brought in with her daily talk show.

Now I loved the show “Season 25: Behind the Scenes.” As a producer and host of my own TV and radio shows, that was like master class for me.   But I just couldn’t get excited about any of the other OWN shows.   I didn’t want to curl up with a glass of wine or cup of gourmet ice cream and just watch OWN like I thought I would.   I tried watching “Why Not?” with Shania Twain but I found myself annoyed by her constant whining and self-doubt.   Unable to hold my attention, OWN quickly became an afterthought.

So what is the problem with OWN?

Well, there are a few issues here.   First of all, Oprah erred by not having a strong presence on the network when it first started.   I realize she was wrapping things up on the Oprah Show but when you’re building a new network based on a brand and a beloved personality, that personality needs to have a strong presence coming out of the gate.   That’s what made O Magazine so successful.   When it started, Oprah was (and continues to be) on the cover every month!  

In a perfect world, Oprah should have waited until January of 2012 to launch the new network.   This way, she could have taken time off after the Oprah Show and then, after a much needed hiatus, taken the reigns of OWN.   This way OWN could have avoided programming faux pas like “The Documentary Club” and “Kidnapped by the Kids.”

Nevertheless, I’m not writing this to highlight the problems.   I adore Oprah and I want OWN to succeed.   In fact, I’d love to someday have my OWN show!   So, let’s talk solutions.

If I were in charge of programming, here’s what I’d do to make OWN a success:

1. Give Iyanla Vanzant her OWN daytime show–preferably mornings.   The show should be live and very loosely scripted.   Just give Iyanla a topic, an audience and a microphone and let her rip.   She has the kind of spontaneous personality that will leave viewers wondering what the heck she’s going to say next yet she always wraps it in wisdom.   We love that!


2. Do away with the same old broadcasting “clock” that programmers have been using for years. Every show doesn’t have to fit the old-school 30 minute or 60 minute mold.   People watch TV for  far shorter time periods these days.   Therefore, short, motivational vignettes, featuring Oprah, that are 10 or 15 minutes in length could be sprinkled throughout the line up.   This could give Oprah that consistent presence without being overbearing or preachy.

3. A money show.   In this economy, people want to know how to survive financially.   A show that highlights innovative money-making ideas or features a lively Suze Orman-type of personality would be an awesome and timely addition to the OWN schedule.   I’m suggesting Lynn Richardson as the host.   She is a best kept secret whose time has come.   She is powerful, candid and when it comes to money,  she’s been there, done that and has the T-shirt to prove it!!! The folks at OWN would be wise to snag  Lynn now before someone else does.

4. A sexy, smart and straight male personality.   Since OWN caters to women, why not have some yummy eye-candy for us to indulge in?   Maybe he’s speaking to women’s issues or doing a show on what men REALLY want.   But please, he’s got to be straight!   There are plenty of gay dudes on the airwaves.   OWN could break ground by featuring some manly men.   In fact, I’ll go even further and recommend Idris Elba.   I know a gang of women who would watch him no matter what he’s talking about.   Yummy-licious!   Or maybe Steve Harvey???

5. A gorgeous, smart female personality.   Someone that’s got the look, the body, the brains and is likeable to boot. She makes watching OWN fun.   Perhaps she’s the one who reminds us of the hot   shows coming up on OWN  or maybe she handles the social media commentary for the network with the goal of engaging and including the viewers.   She could even do surprise 5 minute celebrity interviews between shows.   Now there’s a way to keep us from turning during the commercials!

6. A “View” prototype.   This show would come on right after Iyanla.   It’s three or four women with strong opinions.   It’s current affairs, a little news and lots of hot topics highlighting things going on around the country.   This is that show that keeps viewers connected to what’s happening today.   It keeps us from feeling like we’re in a time warp when we’re watching OWN.   I’m thinking Holly Robinson-Peete as a possible host??

7. Oprah on stage.   The Oprah Show is gone forever.   As much as we all loved it, it is now a thing of the past.   Oprah left the show so she wouldn’t have to do the daily grind of   TV production.   She has bigger fish to fry!   That’s why we don’t need to see Oprah in an hour-long format everyday.   Especially not  the way she’s doing this whole “LifeClass” thing.   I don’t know about you,  but I think the format is kind of wack.      Instead, we should see her monthly or quarterly on a stage before thousands sharing her “best life” wisdom.   It would give a whole different energy to LifeClass.   She would sell-out arenas all over the country and she could build on those two extraordinary finale  shows she did at Chicago’s United Center.     Heck, if Joyce Meyer can fill a large stadium consistently, you know Oprah can!

8. A”Behind the scenes of OWN” show.   Seeing the inner workings of this fledgling network and experiencing all the challenges that come with that would be priceless.   Not to mention people love the reality show element.   Just to see Oprah go off on somebody would create a ratings bonanza!   I know Oprah doesn’t get down like that, but it would still make for good TV!

These are just a few of the things I would do to make OWN a ratings success.   With these recommendations, I believe OWN would quickly overcome its slow start and begin to live up to its extraordinary brand.

What changes would you recommend?   Leave them below.

3 Responses to “8 things OWN could do to boost its ratings”

  1. Or #9 she could have me on doing a relevant and educational travel show.

  2. Monique Caradine says:

    Yes Laurel! That’s what I’m talking about girl. Take us around the world! Expand our horizons!

  3. ahh says:

    Oprah should read this…

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