For Oprah Winfrey's struggling OWN Network, the Comcast deal will increase viewership and add subscription fees
Oprah Winfrey's cable channel has gotten a much-needed shot in the arm: OWN will see a boost in the number of homes in which the network can be seen as a result of a new distribution deal with Comcast, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The agreement will mean an extra three million viewers for OWN, which will now be available in 83 million homes, and Comcast will begin paying subscriber fees for the network next year, the Journal said.
The recent news has been mostly bad for Winfrey's network. SNL Kagan estimated it could lose more than $140 million this year and suggested it might tempt co-owner Discovery to pull the plug.
A Rosie O'Donnell talk show failed to provide ratings juice and was canceled recently and 30 employees were laid off in a cost-cutting move.
But Discovery spokesman David Leavy told TheWrap that SNL Kagan's report was "riddled with inaccuracies and bad information."
"The venture is on more solid ground with more business momentum than ever before," Leavy said. "We remain confident in the future of OWN, and the long-term value we are building."
Some analysts suggest OWN will make it if it can weather this year's storm. Several of OWN's other distribution agreements with cable and satellite operators provide for rate increases next year.
SNL Kagan estimated OWN's average subscription fee will rise to 15 cents a subscriber per month, amounting to more than $153 million for next year, up from $29 million this year. It is not known what Comcast will be paying.