AFRICANGLOBE – Oh, Oprah.
The revelation Tuesday that Oprah Winfrey’s struggling OWN network is finally — earlier than expected — making money came as a shock to much of the TV industry.
Obviously not to Oprah herself, who has proven for decades that she is a mad genius at making money.
It’s not surprising that OWN is generating cash four months earlier than projected by its parent company (Discovery Communications, whose other networks include the Discovery Channel and TLC). The surprise is the way OWN has done it.
The network’s big moment comes via … Tyler Perry.
Perry is as much of a genius as Oprah is at printing money, notably with the movies featuring him in drag playing Madea, a huge, hyperactive, tough old lady.
He signed up last year to produce shows for OWN. Now his two series on the network — the drama “The Haves and the Have Nots” and the sitcom “Love Thy Neighbor,” both almost unanimously panned by critics — are OWN’s most-watched programs.
“Love Thy Neighbor” falls into the Madea mold, featuring a cantankerous old woman named Hattie Mae Love (Patrice Lovely) who rages as she tries boot family members “outta my house!”
We get it. Viewers like what they like, but Oprah built her brand meticulously over the years as an arbiter of quality.
If Oprah recommended a book, it became a best seller. If she liked a brand of ice cream from a shop in the middle of nowhere, by the next day the line for a scoop would be around the block.
She’s created fashion trends, businesses and even other TV hosts, like Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz.
Perry’s shows, on the other hand, are just not that great — although the ratings (roughly around a million viewers per episode) are good enough to make OWN far more valuable than its previous incarnation as Discovery Health.
Still, we’re talking Oprah here, so sooner or later she’ll figure it all out.
She always does.
By: Don Kaplan