Discovery takes majority stake in Oprah's OWN Network

Oprah Winfrey Actors on Actors

United States mass media company Discovery Communications Inc yesterday said that it had raised its stake in its joint venture Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) to more than 70 per cent.

The transaction marks the first time that Discovery has made a cash payment to Winfrey's company, Harpo Inc., since the two parties struck their joint venture a decade ago.

Winfrey's Harpo Inc. will retain a "significant minority interest" in OWN, and Winfrey will continue as chief executive - and, equally as important, will work exclusively for OWN in the basic cable space through 2025. It first acquired Eurosport completely in 2015 and followed it by acquiring Scripps Networks earlier this year for a massive $14.6 billion. After launching in 2011, OWN struggled with programming that aligned with their core audience group, therefore, making there be staff turnover. "In an increasingly crowded landscape, OWN has emerged as the leading destination for African-American women and one of the strongest superfan brands across all screens and services", he said.

In recent years, the network has been bolstered by Winfrey's close relationship with popular producer Tyler Perry and Ava DuVernay, producing shows like The Haves and Have Nots and Queen Sugar, which have proven a hit among the channel's majority black viewership.

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In a statement, Winfrey says she is excited about this "next chapter" of her partnership with discovery. Previously, Oprah and Discovery had run the network with joint 50-50 ownership. "Together, we'll continue to inspire our viewers with real-life stories that are emotional and entertaining, connecting them to each other and to their greatest potential", she added.

Together, Discovery and Scripps will control about 20% of ad-supported pay TV audiences in the USA and will account for more than a 20% share of women watching primetime pay TV in the U.S.

"I'm excited for OWN to be part of Discovery in a deeper, more meaningful way and for the opportunity this unlocks for our future", Erik Logan, president, OWN, said.

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