Oprah Announces Two-year Fade-out
A teary-eyed Oprah Winfrey announced today (Friday) that she will end her unrivaled daytime talk show at the end of its 25th season in 2011. She told her audience that "after much prayer and months of careful thought, I've decided that next season, season 25, will be the last season of The Oprah Winfrey Show." At the end of her announcement, she received a standing ovation from her studio audience. Richard Prince, who tracks African Americans' contributions to the media for the Maynard Institute, wrote that the decision "has implications for daytime television, for cable, for the news shows that follow hers, for her home base of Chicago, for Winfrey herself, and for those for whom she is a role model." Although her program is distributed by the syndication wing of CBS, it is aired mostly on ABC-owned and affiliated stations, including New York's WABC-TV, which reportedly pays $270,000 per week to air it, KABC-TV in Los Angeles, which pays about $240,000 per week, and WLS-TV Chicago, which pays about $225,000. The trade journal Broadcasting & Cable commented on its website that the announcement "represents both an end of a lucrative era and perhaps a significant opportunity for affiliates. At a time when stations are keen to own their content--and escape the shackles of pricey syndicated programming--many will use the vacated slot to launch a local program that might be a more thematic lead-in to early evening news." But Bill Lord, manager of WJLA in Washington D.C., told the Washington Post , "The fact of the matter is she's the gold standard for news lead-ins. ... She's a huge force for ratings." While Winfrey has announced plans to launch her own cable network (called OWN, for Oprah Winfrey Network) in 2011, she has indicated that she will not move her current talk show to it. (It's a 50-50 joint venture with Discovery Communications.) Still, noted the Los Angeles Times , "The exit of Winfrey from broadcast TV to cable is yet another sign of the paradigm shift between the two mediums. ... Winfrey is making the decision that she can make more money and build her brand better on cable than broadcast. A few years ago that would have seemed unthinkable, but it is clear that the greater value lies in the broadband medium."