We have a major shake-up at OWN, Oprah Winfrey's new network that has failed to elicit audience passions -- loosely translated, ratings stink.
Christina Norman, who helped launch it, has been pushed out; former Fox Entertainment chief Peter L iguori has been pushed in. He will now run the place and is charged with the obvious: Get the bloody ratings up and fast.
The announcement came from Discovery Networks, which is partner with O on the network, but you can bet your sweet bippy that Queen Oprah had plenty to do with this as well. Her show is wrapping in just two weeks, and there should be vast and accruing audience interest in OWN, but that is not the case.
TDC chief David Zaslov had to admit to analysts the other day that things were not going as well as he had hoped and that they'd have to pump a lot more money into the venture -- as much as $100 million. Oprah has her hands full with her show and its final days, so the Norman departure was clearly a Zaslov initiative, but nothing gets done at OWN without O's input. In any event, her network must be a bit of a distraction at the moment. Here's the news release, or excerpts...
Peter Liguori has been named Interim Chief Executive Officer of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, it was announced today by Oprah Winfrey, Chairman of OWN, and David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Communications. The appointment reflects a transition from a launch phase to a more long-term focus on business and creative strategy, development and execution following the network's debut on January 1, 2011. Effective immediately, Liguori steps into the role held by Christina Norman, who led the successful launch of the multi-platform joint venture. In addition to his Chief Operating Officer (COO) responsibilities for Discovery Communications, Liguori will oversee the network as it continues building a slate of new and original content, including the October debut of Rosie O'Donnell's new talk show ROSIE and the launch of OPRAH'S NEXT CHAPTER in early 2012. “I want to thank Christina for her important accomplishments, incredible passion and many sacrifices in helping to launch the network,” said Winfrey. “With the final taping of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" only a few weeks away, I will soon be able to devote my full energies to OWN. This is a natural point of transition, and I am confident that Peter, as an integral part of the launch of OWN, will be a terrific partner for me going forward. He is one of the smartest, most creative executives in media, and I look forward to his leadership as we build our development slate and work toward the launch of OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER. Over the remainder of the year, Peter and I will work together to recruit a permanent CEO for OWN's next phase of growth." "Joining OWN was a great opportunity, and launching it successfully and drawing more than 67 million viewers is one of my proudest achievements," said Norman. "My thanks to Oprah and David for entrusting me with this brand and giving me the opportunity to launch OWN. As I move on to my next challenge, I am confident the strong foundation we have built will position the network to achieve great things." “Peter is Discovery’s creative leader, and highly qualified to assume the leadership at OWN for the next phase of growth,” said Zaslav.