January 1, 2011 isn’t just the start of a new year – it’s also the start for Oprah Winfrey’s new cable channel OWN. Although running her own network appears to be a new venture for Oprah, the truth is that Oprah has been running something akin to a network for a long time in the form of the Oprah Winfrey Show. Similar to a network that features different shows that share a particular theme, Oprah’s show featured regular segments that crossed into multiple genres while remaining true to an overarching brand and theme.
For Oprah, life coach to the masses, these themes include celebrity role models and self-actualization. Oprah’s lesson to us all seems to be that if you observe and adopt the habits and practices of Oprah and of her celebrity endorsees, you will be able to “be your best self.” This concept, which proved successful for her talk show, is what defines OWN. Many of the shows airing on OWN follow the Oprah formula that calls for celebrities, inspiring stories, and best of all, celebrities with touching tales. Oprah’s special touch is to take those celebrities and stories and spin them in such a way that makes it personal for the viewers.
The biggest problem Oprah faces with OWN is distinguishing it from the competition. Cable channels have had decades to adopt Oprah’s tactics for their own shows. But Oprah has an edge over the rest of them – 25 years of being on air. If she can capitalize on the personal relationship she has with her audience of millions, there’s no reason why OWN shouldn’t be as big as a success as the Oprah Winfrey Show.