Oprah Winfrey OWN Network Fires 30 Staff Members

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    REUTERS/Dylan Martinez (BRITAIN)
    U.S. television presenter Oprah Winfrey arrives for the birthday dinner party of former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela at Hyde Park in London June 25, 2008.
By Benge Nsenduluka, CP Reporter
March 20, 2012|10:23 am

Oprah Winfrey's declining Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has fired 30 staff members just days after Rosie O'Donnell's "The Rosie Show" was axed due to poor ratings.

"It is difficult to make tough business decisions that affect people's lives. As CEO, I have a responsibility to chart the course for long-term success for the network. To wholly achieve that long-term success, this was a necessary next step," Winfrey, who personally addressed the workers at OWN's Los Angeles office, said in a statement.

The OWN network has struggled since launching in January 2011, losing over 50 percent of its viewership in just one month, according to Nielsen ratings.

Although the network's target audience is 25-54 year-old females, this group accounts for just one third of OWN viewers, which has led to criticisms about the show's content and ultimately ignited calls for managerial change.

While there were an average of 505,000 viewers tuning into the network immediately after launch, in February 2011, one month later, viewership had fallen to an average of 135,000 viewers and network executives have struggled to improve ratings which has resulted in the current restructuring.

Despite rumors that OWN affiliate and partner, Discovery Communications, is considering opting out after reportedly losing $300 million due to low ratings, Discovery Senior Executive Vice President David Leavy insists that Discovery will not pull the plug just yet, according to The Los Angeles Times.

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"We're as committed now as we've ever been and are bullish about the long-term value we are building. The cost structure was not sustainable; we had to right-size that," Leavy said on Monday.

In addition to the layoff, network changes include Discovery adopting a more hands-on role in production by becoming more involved in operations.

O'Donnell was left disappointed after her show was canceled, and although the restructuring has reportedly created tension between her and OWN executives, Winfrey personally thanked her in a recent statement.

"I thank Rosie from the bottom of my heart for joining me on this journey. She has been an incredible partner, working to deliver the best possible show every single day," Winfrey said in a statement.

"As I have learned in the last 15 months, a new network launch is always a challenge and ratings grow over time as you continue to gather an audience. I'm grateful to Rosie and the dedicated Rosie Show team for giving it their all," she added.

 

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