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The Oprah effect: Winners and losers

Oprah Winfrey's decision to walk away from her daytime talk show after 25 years when her contract expires in 2011 will have a ripple effect throughout the television industry.

The big winners are Discovery Communications, which is partners with Winfrey on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) that is due to launch in early 2011, Ellen DeGeneres and Warner Bros., which syndicates her daytime talk show and all the TV stations that will no longer have to compete against Winfrey in daytime.

WINFREY The losers include CBS, which will no longer be able to count on the hundreds of millions that "The Oprah Winfrey Show" delivered in license fees and advertising revenue over the years. ABC is also probably not too happy. Many of its big city stations carried the show and it delivered a sizeable audience to their local news. Sony is also grumbling; it was trying desperately to woo distribution rights to Winfrey's daytime show away from CBS when her deal expired. Winfrey herself may be a loser because odds are that, at least in the short-term, she will take a financial hit by abandoning daytime talk -- although, of course, in the long-term she is building an asset that could have tremendous value.

While Winfrey and OWN are keeping quiet, the talk show queen is expected to have a visible presence on the channel when it launches. She probably will do a daily show, although it will not be a carbon copy of her current effort. This will help OWN build a brand and boost its distribution for the network.

Winfrey's departure will be the end of an era for daytime talk. She burst onto the national scene in 1986 after toiling in local TV in Nashville, Baltimore and Chicago, which is where she has made her home for almost 30 years. The late Roger King, a legendary salesman known as much for his hard-living as for his deal-making acumen, signed her to King World and made her a star, and she made him and his brother Michael incredibly rich. CBS later bought King World for $2.5 billion.

When Winfrey premiered, daytime talk was still ruled by Phil Donahue, who dealt with politics and social issues in a more refrained manner. Winfrey was boisterous and enthusiastic and endeared herself to her audience and guests. She was able to woo political leaders and movie stars to her couch and at the same time dip into the more tawdry topics that have also become a staple of TV without soiling her own reputation.

The exit of Winfrey from broadcast TV to cable is yet another sign of the paradigm shift between the two mediums. News Corp., Disney and Viacom all are powered by their cable networks, as is Time Warner. Comcast wants control of NBC Universal not for its broadcast network and TV stations, but for its cable networks. Winfrey is making the decision that she can make more money and build her brand better on cable than broadcast. A few years ago that would have seemed unthinkable, but it is clear that the greater value lies in the broadband medium. OWN, which will debut in 2011 in roughly 70 million homes, will be turbo-charged by having her on board as a regular presence.

At the same time, her own visibility will decline, at least for awhile. While actors bounce back and forth between broadcast and cable, personalities of Winfrey's stature generally stay put. Ted Koppel left ABC's "Nightline" for Discovery Channel but his presence in the cultural zeitgeist diminished and he no longer is associated with the network. Howard Stern gave up his perch on FM radio for satellite radio and though his pay day grew tremendously, he is no longer part of the daily conversation around the water cooler. Winfrey probably will have a similar adjustment. Cable is great at building some stars such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, but those who move there from broadcast face smaller audiences and diminished limelight. 

Of course, after a quarter of a century of being in the spotlight, maybe Winfrey won't mind some quiet time.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Oprah Winfrey. Credit: Chris Pizzello/Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (26)

There is a season for everything. O is moving on to do other things of interest. After 25 years something new would be nice. Variety is the spice of life

Let's just hope this is the last we hear from her. If only we could be that lucky.

I can't believe she's leaving....

yeah right : )

Can't wait for the Oprah Network!

who cares, I'm tired of her taking credit for all the generous things her "sponsors" do.

Congrats! Looking forward to the next adventure. You are an inspiring person and I wish you well.

Good riddance

Interesting article, especially the 2nd to last paragraph.

WOW !!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry to see her leave but on to bigger and better things or just some quiet time

WOW !!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry to see her leave but on to bigger and better things or just some quiet time

Good Riddance to the World's biggest blowhard and most famous megalomaniac next to Streisand.

Does this mean we will no longer see that face all over the media?

Dare to dream.

seeing less of Oprah is always a good thing...

hope she never awakes from her hibernation

I remember when GM (not Winfrey) gave away cars to all the "single moms" in the audiance. While she did not take direct credit for it, she did not say this is because of GM's generosity. I wonder how many single Dad's out there could have used a new car (or truck) She gave praises to single moms but ignored single dad's and refused to say how women can be as much deadbeats as men can. As Scandal once said. Good bye to you. (And don't let the door hit ya on the way out)

Why the long delay other than to create drama.
Good riddance.

I am delighted and wish she would take Ellen with her. The TV world will not be as overbearing without those 2 BSers.

you have been great inspiration to so any people hope she does bigger and better in the future

Non story. I've worked from home about 25 years, TV blazing away, and never turned on Oprah's show. She must be overhyped, overpaid, and overrated. As such, she could have been a baseball or football player. Give us a real story. Hopefully, not one about a billionaire hanging it up.

Thank God; Im so tired of Winfrey thinking she is the Queen of Everything; but more irritated with those weak-minded followers that regard her every word as heaven sent...

3 YEARS AGO I GAVE THE "BOYCOTT Oprah call due to racism against Whites and others, Today we claim Victory over shakedown Oprah.

Our Next target is the Kenyan Usurper, the hyena from Kenya, Barack Hussein Obama.He Must resign voluntarily, just like Oprah did.
Your Persistance paid off with Oprah, now we must focus on the Kenyan Usurper and our Constitution.

We Trust all of Us Patriots will never betray the US Constitution and persist until we win. We are Birthers until Obama resigns voluntarily and is led into the paddy wagon to Jail for Usurping the US Presidency.
It is forbidden to call Obama President if you are a patriotic American supporter of the US Constitution.
Remember we Patriot Birthers Never quit, never!!!!
Our Daily Mission: Demand Obama shows his Long Form Birth Certificate or resign into a Jail term, Never quit, Truth is in our side, here is the proof you need:
http://freedomtalk.lefora.com/2009/11/16/obama-admits-he-is-a-kenyan-man/page1/ "

Boycott Racist NBA until they give jobs to Whites,Latins and Asians. Thanks!!

I thought she owned the Oxygen Network (which didn't go anywhere)? Why is she starting another network, and how is it going to be different from Oxygen?

Good luck Oprah! For all of you people posting such ugly comments please Stop the Hate!

"in a more refrained manner"'
Is that a cross between refined and restrained?
Or did Phil repeat the chorus a lot?

I think a lot of people's moms forgot to teach the "if you can't say something nice" lesson :P

Oprah may not have been a perfect woman, but she did a lot of good through her show. Sure she made a fortune off of it, but she never once HAD to donate anything to charity, or help out all the people that she did. She could have carried on interviewing celebrities until she died and still made a fortune, but instead she chose to take time to help those less fortunate than her as well.

How many of the people who have posted so many negative things about her can claim the same? If some of you do give to the less fortunate, good for you! For the rest though, why not take a page out of her book and try doing something nice for someone, instead of just complaining about people who managed to be more successful than you.

And lastly, I'd like to note that all those "sponsored prizes" she gave away - if it wasn't for her, none of those "sponsors" would have donated what they did. She is the only reason they were sponsoring anyone! I think she has every right to claim those as her work!

Oprah is nothing more than a rich, successful and good-hearted woman. I wish her all the best in the future.

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