Ratings-challenged OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) let go of 30 employees yesterday as part of a restructuring. “It is difficult to make tough business decisions that affect people’s lives, but the economics of a start-up cable network just don’t work with the cost structure that was in place,” said OWN chief executive Oprah Winfrey, who was in the network’s mid-Wilshire offices Monday afternoon. “As CEO, I have a responsibility to chart the course for long-term success for the network. To wholly achieve that long-term success, this was a necessary next step.”
In a bid to improve what had become a dark spot in Discovery Communications’ otherwise strong portfolio, Winfrey took over as chief executive eight months ago. At that time, longtime Harpo leaders Erik Logan and Shari Salata were tapped as presidents of OWN. Added Logan, “We have been on the air for 15 months, and since September we have gained momentum in ratings and viewership. Restructuring our business will allow us to build a solid foundation for long-term growth.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, “the reconfiguration of OWN’s operations in Los Angeles and New York will see the responsibilities of those exiting staffers redistributed among the network and venture partners Discovery and Harpo Studios. “ After the latest round of cuts, about 90 people remain on the OWN payroll, down from 150 employees at its peak. With ratings continuing to average lower than what Discovery Health – the low-cost network OWN replaced in January 2011–earned, “no one was particularly surprised,” about the layoffs, an OWN insider revealed.