Chicago — One of the world’s most powerful media figures is launching a risky new project this week — OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network. When the basic cable channel debuts on Jan. 1, its success or failure may rely on the talk show host’s core audience following her to cable.
Now, to be clear, that largely female audience is so famously passionate about the so-called Queen of All Media, they’ve been repeatedly parodied on the Onion News Network. The online comedy channel once spoofed a segment that had Oprah inviting “fans to be buried along with her in her tomb upon her death” and arranged in a giant sarcophagus so as to receive their guru’s wisdom in the afterlife.
But all jokes aside, television critic Eric Deggans of The St. Petersburg Times says Winfrey’s leap from network to cable television is well-timed. Deggans notes that since Winfrey started her show 25 years ago, a daily national syndicated show is less powerful than it used to be. If her regular daily talk show had continued, there’s a strong chance Winfrey would have faced pay cuts and the loss of some important markets.