Published May 07, 2012
LOS ANGELES – The losses at Oprah Winfrey's stumbling cable channel are approaching a staggering $330 million, according to a report.
And now industry insiders are predicting that the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) will not be able to survive another year if it does not find a hit show and make a dramatic turnaround.
Discovery, which partnered 50-50 with Winfrey to launch the network and has been underwriting its costs, has invested nearly $600 million in it since 2008, according to a report in Businessweek magazine over the weekend.
But since it started on the air in January 2011, "OWN may have lost as much as $330 million," it reported.
The magazine quotes one Wall Street media analyst calling the channel the most "successful failure in television today."
David Zaslav, Discovery Communications' CEO who talked Winfrey into the idea of OWN, is famously impatient with money-losing operations within his company.
He closed a channel Discovery operated with The New York Times in 2008 and killed Planet Green, an eco channel, just last month.
"I really can't see Zaslav losing this kind of money for much longer," one longtime business associate said last week.
Though Winfrey herself has relatively little money invested in the channel, her image as the most successful TV star of her generation is on the line.
Emails to OWN and Oprah's production company, Harpo, were not returned Sunday.