Black Women Help OWN Achieve Its Second Year of Double-Digit Growth

Oprah Winfrey visits Sweetie Pie’s in St. Louis to surprise the cast of OWN’s “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” Sunday, March 25 while in town for the live premiere of “Oprah’s Lifeclass: the Tour." (Photo: © 2012 Harpo, Inc./George Burns)

OWN may have had a shaky start when it debuted on New Year’s Day three years ago but it’s since made up for it and black female viewers  played a key role.

The network helmed by media maven Oprah Winfrey has achieved its second consecutive year of double-digit growth, according to an OWN press release. The network closed out 2013 on top, delivering a 16-percent increase in women ages 25 to 34, a 21-percent increase in total viewers and a 76-percent increase in African American women ages 25 to 54 in primetime versus 2012, the release continued, also sourcing information from The Nielsen Company.

OWN’s original programming has helped make it a go-to TV experience for many black women. The reality show “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” easily became the network’s highest-rated show soon after its fall 2011 debut, showing nearly double OWN’s then average prime-time viewership.

See a snippet of “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” first episode
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“Anytime you have a program that pops like ‘Sweetie Pie’s’ did, you start looking at what drove it,” OWN president Erik Logan told Adweek in December 2011. “And we saw that the African-American audience really had a connection with that show. . . . We’re going to look at ways to nurture and grow that.”

OWN did more than that, it ran with it and began offering heaping portions of shows catering to black audiences. In addition to “Sweetie Pie’s,” OWN’s Saturday night lineup–“Iyanla: Fix My Life,” “Houston Beauty,” “Six Little McGhees,” “Raising Whitley” and “Life with La Toya”–are the top six original series for black women ages 25 to 54. “Raising Whitley” season 2 premieres at 9 p.m. EST on Saturday.

Winfrey’s pal Tyler Perry’s scripted series “The Haves and the Have Nots,” “Love Thy Neighbor” and “For Better or Worse” also helped to boost numbers. “The Haves and the Have Nots” is Tuesday night’s No. 4 original cable series for women ages 25 to 54 and the No. 2 original series on all of television for African American women ages 25 to 54. “Love Thy Neighbor” is Wednesday night’s No. 2 original cable series and No. 3 series on all of television for African American women ages 25 to 54 while “For Better or Worse” is Wednesday night’s No. 4 original cable series and No. 5 on all of television for African-American women ages 25 to 54.

“The Haves and the Have Nots” season 2 premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST  and “Love Thy Neighbor” season 2 premieres with back-to-back episodes beginning Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST. A new series “The Diamond Collar,” which follows ex-mafia street enforcer  James “Head” Guiliani premieres with back-to-back episodes on Jan. 17 at 10 p.m. EST. “Mom’s Got Game,” which takes a look at the relationship between former WNBA basketball star Pamela McGee and her 25-year-old son, Denver Nuggets center, JaVale McGee, premieres January 18 at 10 p.m. EST. 

This past season of “Iyanla: Fix My Life” was up double digits in women ages 25 to 54 and total viewers versus the prior season. The most recent seasons of “Iyanla: Fix My Life” have featured celebrity guests like rapper DMX, “Basketball Wives” star Evelyn Lozado and ex-NFLer Terrell Owens that made for water cooler fodder. For 2013, the series ranked as the No. 2 Saturday night original series in all of television for African American women ages 25 to 54.

The year’s top five “Oprah’s Next Chapter” episodes included:

· Lance Armstrong Part 1 – 3.2 million total viewers

· Lance Armstrong Part 2 – 1.8 million total viewers

· Beyonce – 1.3 million viewers

· Tina Turner – 1.03 million viewers

· Black Women in Hollywood featuring Alfre Woodard, Viola Davis, Phylicia Rashad and Gabrielle Union – 1.0 million total viewers

OWN also announced earlier this week that it’s acquired the network television rights to “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” from The Weinstein Company. The critically-acclaimed film, starring Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela and Naomi Harris as Winnie Mandela, is based on the 1995 book “Long Walk to Freedom.”

Watch Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and the Have Nots” Speedy Set Tour
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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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