Oprah delighted with OWN network launch

Fri Jan 7, 2011 1:49pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A delighted Oprah Winfrey said on Thursday she had gone from scared to excited about the gamble of launching her new OWN cable television network.

Speaking to TV journalists five days after the launch of the Oprah Winfrey Network, the talk show queen said she realized there could be difficult times ahead but she firmly believed Americans were ready for more thoughtful and inspirational TV programs.

"I went from, 'can I do it? I'm so scared' to 'I can't wait to do it full time'," Winfrey said of the January 1 launch of OWN, a joint venture between Discovery Communications and her production company, Harpo.

"OWN feels like a big paintbox where I have an idea and I can build on that idea. Who gets this in their life? It is better than anything," she said.

OWN CEO Christina Norman said the channel, a largely female-oriented mixture of lifestyle, advice and uplifting shows, was off to an "incredibly strong start overall".

She said 13 million people tuned in to the network between its Saturday launch and Monday, proving OWN could attract a big audience. The aim is to break into the top 5 cable channels during prime time, and the top 10 during the day, Norman said.

But Winfrey, 56, said she was less concerned with ratings. "I am grateful we weren't embarrassed and that people came," she said.

"At this point in my life, I am not trying to get everybody. I am only trying to get the people who want to hear. ...There is a critical mass of people -- we haven't found them all -- who want different programing.   Continued...