Discovery Plots Promo Blitz for New Oprah, Rosie OWN Shows

New shows starring Rosie O'Donnell (left) and Oprah Winfrey premiere Monday on OWN (Photos: Getty Images)

New shows starring Rosie O'Donnell (left) and Oprah Winfrey premiere Monday on OWN (Photos: Getty Images)

Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network is hoping to start a new chapter next week, and it’s not Chapter 11.

Sorry, we’re just using “Chapter 11” to be cheeky since no one is saying the Discovery-owned OWN channel is anywhere near to going belly-up. But OWN – which launched last New Year’s Day with great fanfare – is not doing well enough to avoid another big capital investment from Discovery, the cable giant that co-owns OWN. Winfrey is the other owner.

According to this story in the New York Post, this time the cash is taking the form of an investment in promotion and publicity for next week’s launch of Rosie O’Donnell’s new, highly anticipated talk show on OWN, “The Rosie Show,” and another new show called “Oprah’s Lifeclass,” starring the co-owner herself.

The Post story says the Discovery company will spend about $15 million to promote the new shows, which both premiere this Monday, Oct. 10. We’re assuming the $15 million estimate includes the cost of a scheme to simulcast the two premieres on four other Discovery networks.

Under that plan, announced Thursday morning, “The Rosie Show” (premiering on OWN at 7 p.m./6c) and “Oprah’s Lifeclass” (premiering on OWN at 8/7c) will get additional simultaneous exposure on TLC, Investigation Discovery, Discovery Fit & Health, and Planet Green. Not included in the simulcast plan: Discovery Channel, Military Channel and the HUB kiddie channel. When we talk about the “cost” of such a scheme, we’re talking about the ad revenue that Discovery will sacrifice on those other channels in order to maximize the exposure for these two new shows.

Clearly, Discovery and OWN are counting on these two premieres to reenergize the network and attract loads of new viewers — an outcome that remains to be seen.

“The Rosie Show” marks O’Donnell’s return to talk television. Her show is based in Oprah’s former studio in Chicago. Though O’Donnell is a lifelong resident of the New York area, she has resettled in the Windy City to take on this new challenge.

This new investment by Discovery pales in comparison to one the company made last February, just a month after the network launched and it had already become obvious that viewership was far lower than the company had hoped for. That investment amounted to $50 million, according to this story

Our own take on this OWN situation: You really don’t have to be a financial whiz, or even have first-hand knowledge of the balance sheets for OWN to recognize a struggling cable channel when you see one.

Think about it: How many people do you know who watch OWN? And how often do you see OWN and its shows mentioned in newspapers, magazines or on TV and entertainment Web sites?

The answer to the first question: Few or none. The answer to the second: Hardly ever, and that’s as sure a sign as any that OWN is not catching on.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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