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TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - The stellar launch of Oprah Winfrey's OWN Network stateside has Canadian TV exec Doug Murphy looking under his seat and eyeing more than a pair of car keys.
Murphy, whose company Corus Entertainment is to launch OWN Canada in over six million Canadian homes on March 1, is confident he has a Canadian TV phenomenon on his hands.
"The launch in the U.S. this past weekend and its runaway success to us validates that we're onto something really big," Murphy, president of Corus Television, said Wednesday.
Corus late last year signed a licensing agreement with Winfrey's Harpo Inc. to bring its joint venture with Discovery Communications to Canada by rebranding its existing women's cable channel Viva.
"When we entered into the (licensing) agreement, we did so with a strong belief that the overall effect would generate a significant audience in Canada," Murphy added.
Market commentators agree. Scotia Capital analyst Paul Steep in a recent investors note predicted Corus will ride a popular wave in Canadian TV audience and ad acceptance following OWN's U.S. launch on New Year's Day.
"OWN provides Corus with a major lift in strengthening its position in delivering a key women's demographic to advertisers," Steep wrote.
Toronto-based Corus, which already runs W, Canada's cable women's channel, and niche off-shoots Cosmo and Viva, from this Friday will air nested blocks of OWN programing on its Canadian channels to promote the March 1 launch of OWN Canada.
Through January and February, Canadians will sample OWN shows day-and-date with the U.S. airdates.
Corus' Murphy isn't saying whether the media maven herself will be up in Canada on March 1 to cut the ribbon on OWN Canada, but envisages full cooperation.
"I've no idea, but we're optimistic we'll have her up in Canada at some point," he said.
Editing by Zorianna Kit