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Oprah's Magazine Now Struggling. Does She Still Have The Magic?

by Cynthia Reid
July 25, 2011 5:46 AM
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It's no secret that Oprah's new joint venture television network with Discovery, now called the OWN network, has been struggling from day one. Not long ago, she let everyone know that plans were in the works to do some revamping. However, now comes word that her publication, O Magazine, is also struggling with ad sales.

While the whole magazine industry has seen recent declines, Martha Stewart Living is down 14 percent and EveryDay with Rachael Ray is down 25 percent, O Magazine is down by 31 percent according to the Media Industry Newsletter.

An O magazine spokesperson says “O’s ad page performance is pretty consistent with what’s going on in the women’s lifestyle category. There is softness, especially in the food category, which is systemic to their business, not ours."

While that may be true, a former Hearst insider says “I think that the Oprah brand has gotten slightly weaker. Ratings are down significantly for the new network, and there is a sense some of the magic is gone."

Promotional efforts are underway now to bolster the brand. An "O You" event at the Georgia Convention Center will reportedly gross roughly $725,000 if the 5,000 expected attendees each pay $125.

Maybe the real question is can she "reinvent" her message?

(Source: Eurweb)

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  • Well | July 25, 2011 12:42 PMReply

    I predict OWN will be very successful. It takes years to build a whole network with 24 hour 7 day a week programming. OWN has already seen massive ratings growth on Sunday nights. They just have to expand it to the rest of the week. It will take time to find the right combination of shows but if anyone can do it, oprah can. Oprah herself is hardly even on the network now but she will be. As for her magazine beige down, it had nowhere to go but down and all of print media is in the toilet these days but it's still the number one life style magazine in america

  • JMac | July 25, 2011 11:31 AMReply

    My bad. The 200% increases were for certain shows that debuted on OWN. The network itself had a 33% increase in prime time ... at least for the first week or so. Then the ratings slipped. Still I think if she had better shows and more original programming off the bat, the drop wouldn't have been as drastic. No one loves Oprah enough to watch week after week of reruns.

    She did the marketing and got the right initial response. She just didn't deliver.

    It always seemed odd to me that she debuted the network when she still had her show on ABC. Probably good for extra promotion but I think it would've made more sense to launch it when the new season starts and people are desperate for their Oprah fix. But what do I know, cable tv mogul I'm not.

  • Linda | July 25, 2011 9:44 AMReply

    JMac, your numbers are incorrect. OWN is not doing anywhere near twice as well as Discovery Health. Here is a June article about its ratings struggles:

  • JMac | July 25, 2011 9:29 AMReply

    Not sure if I agree with the assertion that OWN's been struggling since Day 1. Didn't it improve viewership for Discovery Health by 200% or more? If she had more original programming and more interesting original programming (who the hell cares about the Judds or Sarah Ferguson enough to watch an entire series on them?), maybe there wouldn't have been such a dramatic drop. Still think once the Oprah Show airs on OWN more viewers will tune in. Maybe that will boost sales for her magazine. It's in a better financial position than most/all black magazines so she can't be hurting too much.

    Can she reinvent herself? That's what Oprah does best - whether some like it or not. She'll be okay. Her career is far from over.

  • Tamara | July 25, 2011 9:21 AMReply

    Oprah needs to feature other folks than herself on the cover. Maybe that would help? I wonder how the sales of her cover with Michele and Ellen were in comparison to the rest of the solo covers?

    Also, I almost bought the latest, but decided to keep my 5$. The pages are pretty, the information informative, the ads, numerous and aplenty, but I always come away with having purchased an item that would take me ten/fifteen minutes to wade through at the newsstand. Why buy it and keep it? To collect? I stopped collecting magazines when VIBE reduced its size, changed its look and editor(s) for the umpteenth time and in general, overall, went south... VIBE was my entertainment periodical-BIBLE, but a las, no mas.

    And, scene. The end. LOL

  • Leon Breckenridge | July 25, 2011 8:10 AMReply

    I feel like its the same situation with Jay-Z when he tried to retire. You are only famous when you do what you do best. Jay-Z is only famous as long he stays rapping even though people would tell you that he is a businessman. But the only he keeps his brand going through his rapping. For Oprah people can care for her unless she has a talk show. Now her talk show is gone her other brand will evaporate. O Magazine, OWN are not the evolution of Oprah but something to tie-in to her show. Now her show is gone her career is over.

  • Gec | July 25, 2011 6:58 AMReply

    Oprah's magazine might be on the decline, but it's still head and shoulders above the competition. All of print media has seen massive declines.

  • Jennifer | July 25, 2011 5:56 AMReply

    Oprah needs to find some way to appeal to a younger demographic as well as her older audience. It's not totally comparable, but Meryl Streep didn't become a box office draw until she did 'Devil Wears Prada' which appealed to younger audiences. Right now her audience is women 35 and older.

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