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I Love You Oprah, But I Still Won’t Watch OWN

Here's an idea: Spice things up by sprinkling in some reality and rachetness

Sometimes a sprinkle of reality TV might help liven up a network's vibe --- as well as its ratings. (Image: Vh1)

 

Have younger — dare I say, cutting-edge — programming, with young hosts, young producers, young writers and young topics. Young doesn’t have to equal ratchet. (Anybody remember Teen Summit where a young Ananda Lewis was the host who would interview guests like Hillary Clinton and hot entertainers of the time in front of a young studio audience?) Bring in some fresh, youthful content ideas and intermix those with the veterans who are good at what they do and the shows that already do well with the more-senior audience.

Get some diversity. There’s been the argument that Oprah hasn’t included enough people of color, especially in some hot entertainment areas (ie. the multimillion-dollar world of hip hop). I’d love to see an interview with Lil Wayne and the Cash Money empire about their lives and their business or a show where she follows young urban entrepreneurs in their journey to build their businesses from the ground up. Let’s talk about taboo topics more, such as HIV/AIDS among minorities, exploring sexually and the LGBT community, and issues other cultures in America and international deal with that aren’t centered around that “save the world” aesthetic.

Consider more interactive or raw content that is user-generated. We all love the inspirational stories from viewers about how they gave back or how they were able to use one of the tips from the show to improve their lives, but why not, for example, try featuring YouTube stars who cover lifestyle elements in alternative ways? Have a contest to find the next biggest host by utilizing video-centered social media (beyond Facebook and Twitter) and relating to people where they are. Shake things up a bit by including hosts who maybe don’t wear Dockers and Sperrys.

Don’t be afraid of the “ratchet.” Hey, it’s part of life, and to be honest, it equals big ratings. You can’t have the good without the bad, and for some of us, it’s a guilty pleasure and escape. (Even the cardigan-wearing Dockers types sneak a peek at The Real Housewives of Atlanta or Bridezillas.) I think Oprah could be the person to find the perfect balance of offering quality TV along with the ugly side of it and be successful at it. We love Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz, so what’s the harm in adding another Wives or Shore franchise in the mix?

Get back to sitcoms that actually make us almost forget reality TV. Despite what’s been drilled into the hearts and minds of the public, people still like a good, scripted show. We loved Girlfriends, The Cosby Show, Living Single and the like. Who better than Oprah to revive the advent of having that friend in our head (or in real-life) like Toni Childs or Khadijah James?

Loosen up a little more. Now that Oprah’s reached a climax in her career (and I’m sure she could go higher and higher), let’s see more of the side of Oprah that is open to doing things like visiting Marcy Projects with Jay-Z’s Bed-Stuy hood or when she chopped it up with late-night host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel. It made us feel like you were that aunt at the family reunion who is known for snubbing anything that wasn’t designer, but after a few drinks joined everybody in the electric slide.

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  • John S. Wilson

    That’s an interesting perspective. In addition to your suggestions, I think she needs proven talent. Where’s Ellen, Matt Lauer, Katie Couric, or Anderson Cooper. Yes, it would take serious money to bring them to OWN but isn’t that what Oprah’s billions are for? She has yet to make a large personal investment (relative to her worth).

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      This is a great point. I’m sure new talents exist who offer great things to the marketplace as Ellen and the others you mentioned have, and could do well on Oprah’s network.

  • Loni

    It is too sad that it takes catfights, seedy pasts, fist-pumping, rehab hi-jinx and all the voyeuristic vices for networks to survive in this day and age. TV has gone to the dogs, wholesome programs are not appreciated anymore, reality and celebrity based TV has caused our brains to rot.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      It’s def. a reality that is backed by ratings numbers and profit margins. I’d like to see more of a balance as well. We can have the reality TV, but’s also get back to real sitcoms, youth-oriented talk shows and a diversity of perspectives and voices.

    • Lvflg

      Loni: you are so on-point. Do we have to stoop so low? I mean do we really??? And what is so great about reality tv? Do we have to be so dumbed down? Is that something to be proud of. Sure you can have some reality tv. But what about public affairs? news? current affairs? That includes a MAP of the world! [gulp] YES – i said it. Don’t black people want to know what’s going on in the world. Our world can’t be all reality tv…The truth is viewership has moved away from tv and has moved to the net.

      • simon si

        Blacks? Herein lies the problem! What do Blacks have to do with your false assertions about Reality TV excluding News programming and only consisting of black viewers. MSNBC has a large black viewership, and so does CNN among many other reputable decent cable programmings. And yes a large part of Cable news programming is also considered “reality TV” as in (non-scripted.)The Jersey Shore’s viewership among many other indecent reality shows consists mostly of a large white demographic. And by the way, cable viewers are a lot more nuanced than is being suggested here. People who watch Desperate Housewives also watch CSI, Wheel Of fortune and Jeopardy. Part of the problem lies in the fact that we are a generation who gets its entertainment mostly within the warm confines of the couch, as opposed to the outdoors, as we did a few decades ago. We are gobbling up everything that doesn’t require setting foot outside the house, whether it’s basketball wives or Wheel of Fortune. Oprah’s problem is not about what viewers watch or don’t watch, it’s more about the fact that she has yet to target a specific cable sub-demographic. Instead she has been trying to force feed a very culturally fragmented cable landscape a her own brand of programming genre from the same old programming-format she used on the Oprah show on ABC. Cables are different from Networks, the paradigms for success should be viewed differently.

    • Peggy Duncan

      Loni, I agree with you. If Oprah has to stoop to trashy TV, I’d rather see her “retire” and go on the speaking circuit or something similar.

      I’ve not seen the network because I’m not that much into TV to pay for the level of cable I’d need. Huge issue for her that was probably never considered.

    • Noell

      I do not think cat fights would fit in with Oprah’s programming.

      I also, was not surprised at the network’s struggle.

      Oprah is great for sharing with the world, what she has learned. However she did not successfully get true, accurate feedback on what people want.

      Most of her projects have succeeded. One project that did not was the movie Beloved. It was very dark. I think she brought her character (and experience) from Roots into that movie. Roots was not just a dark slave movie. It was a story of history, triumph, love, adventure, and love. Beloved captured only the pain. It did not succeed at the box office.

      OWN seems to be stereotyped as dark, sad, odd, etc…

      Oprah needs to add in the programming, some excitement (other than cat fights). I do not watch the reality shows with women acting like 4 year olds. Fighting is ugly, not exciting. Basketball Wives makes black women look stupid, cheap, angry…I could go on. That goes against what OWN should represent.

      Oprah’s advice program seems popular. Some new shows need to be added…humor wins every time.

      Some programs that always seem popular:

      Home decorating programs
      Financial advice programs
      Comedy (maybe even standup shows in the evenings or weekend)
      Makeover shows (we loved when Oprah’s team transformed people into NEW people)

      We all probably have other ideas that could help Oprah’s network. If we all give ideas and her team uses some of our suggestions, great. If not, great.

      Noell

  • cacjohnson

    At the age of forty,a college graduate with no children, I believe that the Oprah brand is a lifestyle. And, yes, I am one of those people that will attest to just about anything Oprah touches,even though, I do not watch OWN because as I stated it seems to me to be more about a lifestyle than just a network. I mean really this is coming from a person that swears by Seventeen Mag.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      You make a good point. It is about a lifestyle. My focus on this piece is to highlight ways her network could come out of monetary loss and get better ratings.

    • Noell

      I agree, OWN caters to only a certain demographic. I am also a single educated woman with no children. Most of the show on the network do not hold my interest.

  • J Dunn

    Frankly, I am tired of reality TV shows. Soap opera fans appealed to Oprah to pick up All My Children and One Life to Live for her network when their cancellations were announced. Oprah claimed that nobody watches soaps and that she would not be picking up the shows. Well apparently, nobody is watching the shows on OWN. I did watch the interview with Whitney Houston’s family, and I absolutely love Sweetie Pie’s. Everything else is just drivel. People want good, scripted programming and not a steady diet of yelling, screaming and fighting women.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      “People want good, scripted programming and not a steady diet of yelling, screaming and fighting women” (I would agree in that there needs to be a balance. I just don’t agree that watching reality TV is a bad thing. The saturation of it in the market IS.)

  • will

    I agree with the premise of this article, that there are plenty of other things that Oprah could show (especially not repeated runs of “Beloved”) but the article suggests that she should cave into the ‘reality TV” market to witch I say “Hell No”,,say what you want about Oprah but she built her brand on class and intelligent TV,,why in Gods name would she reduce herself to jump on the ignorant reality TV bandwagon that does nothing but degrade our women and confirm to all of America what they think black women really are. The last thing she needs to do is become a part of that “genre”. “Dont be affraid of the ratchet??’ are you kidding me,,did you actually get paid to write this article,,Oprah has done everything in her power to steer clear of the “ratchet” mentality and all that associate with it,,why would she encompass it now.,,,shows like Jersey and Housewives are the reason why a network like OWN is struggling because Americas has been brainwashed to believe that ignorant drama is entertaining. I don’t know what’s worse,,these shows or the drones of ignorant dum dums who watch them.

    sorry sweetie,,you could have kept that opinion to your ratchet self.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      I’m not saying that she should “cave in” to reality TV, nor am I suggesting that she have shows like Basketball Wives on her network (other networks, to be honest, already have a hold on that portion of the market). The point was to give suggestions that will get the network out of monetary loss and low ratings.) It’s obvious that the current business model and offerings is not working based on ratings and the profit losses. At the end of the day, TV is a business, thus, one must adjust, within branding and reason, to the market and what people want. Drama is entertaining, so is feel-good TV and so are sitcoms. Let’s find that balance and I think Oprah is the perfect person to facilitate it.

    • K. Sweet

      You took the words out of my mouth! Let’s try promoting positivity more, maybe, just maybe it can become just as trendy as the foolishness! Reality TV only made it’s mark because it’s been forced down our throats. It’s nonsense, fictional, & provides the wrong type of example for our youth! It’s despicable how into these ‘celebs’ people are. & I don’t speak as anti-reality tv, but never should it be booming with ratings the way it is! This is why folks don’t know who to vote for, what’s going on in their communities, what wars were involved in, what their elected officials are doing…ya know..REALITY!!! All blinded by scripted-reality! God bless us all!

      Ms. Hazel wood: I get your point, but your suggestion is less than pleasing!

    • Noell

      AMEN.

    • Paul

      You are right – I agree with you!

  • Melanie A.

    I think one of the problems of OWN network is there’s really no original programming on the network. Now I do like Sweetie Pie’s, being originally from St. Louis is what drew me in to that reality show. But other than that there’s nothing new on OWN. They seem to have alot of programs on there that are already on other networks like the ID channel. And then those shows they have on are not even new. OWN network needs to find it’s own identity, it’s own brand, but they should know that by now.
    You can’t keep putting on programs that’s already on other networks and expect to get a loyal following. Because people like me, and I happen to be a huge Oprah fan btw, won’t be watching the OWN network.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      “OWN network needs to find it’s own identity, it’s own brand, but they should know that by now.” (EXCELLENT point!)

  • Tracye

    I’m a huge Oprah fan. However, I’m programmed to watch Oprah at 4:00. Tuning into Oprah at not is not normal to be because I’m programmed to watch other shows. Love her to death, didn’t know how I would make it after her finales last May, but I did.

    The BK interview was huge because it was Oprah being Oprah. I’m not sold on the new format yet.

    Just wish that she hadn’t tired of her old show. My heart goes out to those that have lost their jobs in this tough economy.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      I think the BK interview was huge, not because it was just “Oprah being Oprah” but because she went to where the people are, people who ALSO watch her shows. She diversified her features and included someone who probably should’ve been included years ago: Jay Z and his rise to business and music industry success.

    • Diana

      Interestingly enough, at last report, Oprah was worth 2.7 billion without having received alimony, child support, taking her clothes off, using filthy language or advice from all the above ‘experts’. I’m hopeful she’ll accumulate a few more billions despite negativety from her own black people. I wish her well.

  • Tracye

    Meant to say at night, not at not. Sorry.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      No prob :) And thanks so much for commenting and reading.

  • BNME

    I don’t buy into the ‘If-Can’t-Beat-Them-Join-Them’lemming perspective. If OWN goes the route of every other cable channel with faux-reality and over the top drama, tell me again why we would need or want the network?

    OWN/Oprah’s biggest obstacle to me seems to be the cautious,risk-averse strategy;to grow her network she’s going to have to take bigger gambles.

    Give people more than lukewarm pep talks. Bring the entertainment value even if it remains overwhelmingly positive and redemptive in nature.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      “OWN/Oprah’s biggest obstacle to me seems to be the cautious,risk-averse strategy;to grow her network she’s going to have to take bigger gambles.” (Totally agree :) )

      • Noell

        I think Oprah was just out fbtouch with people …everyday people, when she planned her programming. She needs to reconnect.

      • Noell

        Sorry for the typo

  • Kendra Edmonds

    Not really feeling the interview “Lil” Wayne and “Cash Money Millionaires” comment at all. I also do not agree with the “Everybody else is doing it, so should I mentality”. Oprah doesn’t need to create another BET. We already have one of those. Don’t really like the Urban Entrepreneurs idea either. Oprah has a huge following that would be completely turned off by these suggestions. This isn’t her target audience. She can definitely make her shows much more entertaining with a positive spin. She need to follow more of the Lifetime TV Dynamic than the BET crowd. In addition to this, reality tv is completely trash. I don’t know how any black woman with sense can stand to watch “Basketball Wives”. It is something very wrong and sad about this show. If these are almost 40 year old black women behaving like this, what kind of example are they setting for their children. This isn’t positive TV. Oprah is about positivity and uplifting people. I would be disgusted to watch an interview with Lil Wayne Janell. Why do you like him anyway? He doesn’t like you. You are way too dark for him and these are words out of his own mouth. I would never support anyone I don’t care how much money he has who is so ignorant he calls women of a darker skin complexion ugly and not good enough for him. I respect your ideas but they will not save the Oprah network. She needs more lifestyle programming and should offer all of the people that have gotten their own shows just for being on her show exclusivity on her network. This will definitely boost her ratings.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      Despite many people’s issues with Lil Wayne and Cash Money, the fact remains that millions of kids and adults are fans of their brand and also they are a bankable entity. Mentioning them was to serve as simply an example of diversifying the guests or stories for other audiences that might make for bigger ratings and also make the brand more relatable to other groups of people. People can be inspired by someone’s rise to success and learn from it just as much as they are inspired by Dr. Phil and the other people Oprah’s famous for consistently featuring.

      The whole point of the piece was to shine a light on ways the network could come out of loss and plunging ratings from someone who is a fan of Oprah but not the TV of which her network offers to the market, and it is obvious by the numbers that the current model simply does not work. Numbers, audience, and ratings simply don’t lie.

      • Allison

        I see the point you’re trying to make, but part of the reason for the appeal of these artists is taht people are only focused on the fact that they have made money, without taking much thought to how they got there, and what they’re doing with the money once they get it. I’m tired of hearing that rappers are for their community just because they bring back a turkey dinner here or there, while ignoring the fact that they are still ttying to prove their “realness” by going in out of jail, in and out of women unprotected, and starting gang-like altercations with other people for absolutely no reason. I admit that I don’t follow these artists, so if there’s something I’m missing, I don’t mind being educated, but I’m afraid I can’t respect Little Wayne or other artists like him. I don’t deny the hard work they had to put in to get where they are, and in the case of Little Wayne, I don’t even deny his talent..the man is gifted with poetry and storytelling, but what they choose to use their fame for boils down to ignorance.

        • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

          Hi Allison. Everything you said is valid and I definitely respect your opinion. What you said would be part of the discussion. I’m not suggesting Oprah do any fluff content on artists or things of that nature. I’m saying exploring the topic and other topics like it should be an option.

        • http://google.com

          Yes – again agree

    • Succesful Sim

      I totally agree with you Kendra 1000%
      Janell, there is no way that Oprah needs to peek into the doors of foolery that those reality shows offer with their bunch of buffoon women. I enjoy OWN and what it has to offer. I’m thankful for it especially since every other channels have those embarrassing women on it. I’m so ashamed and embarrassed as an educated black woman to see them act like animals. And to know that they have children! Oh lord, I feel for their children. I thought and hoped Love and Hip Hop would be different but when Chrissy started to act a fool the first episode, I stopped watching immediately. To know that Jim Jones wants her as a wife….seriously?! Instead of buying her a ring, he should have bought her a cage to keep her in. She doesn’t know how to behave in social situations. And Jim wants to marry that? She more of a life liability than a life investment. I pray OWN stays on.

  • Vonmiwi

    I kid you not that I had this same conversation today and it’s as if there are some people who really want to see Oprah fail. Every new network that came out struggled at some point, but it seems that OWN was supposed to be perfect beyond every thing else and be number one within a year.

    OWN isn’t shown in some markets unless you have deluxe cable and I personally refuse to waste money on that due to my city’s lack of competition in cable providers. OWN doesn’t need that ignorance in order to compete and every thing isn’t about youth and what interest them. She doesn’t need to bring in the likes of Cash Money as kind of business model to attract a younger audience. I guess you must be saying that she should become more urban orientated for some black folks to watch the network?

    What OWN can do is create programing that caters to a diverse audience in which they and even many of us can relate to. She and Tyler are friends and he’s not in any kind of binding contract with TBS, maybe she could have him create some new sitcomes or dramas. Oprah just seems to bring out the Schadenfreude in every one who wants to see her fail.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      Hi Vonmiwi. Thanks for your comment. I think many people are getting stuck on the one example and not the holistic point which is diversify the people she interviews and the way the stories are told. That’s the holistic point.

  • Allison

    While I respect your opinion on this topic, I’m afraid I have to disagree with your comparison.

    I have never been an Oprah fan either, so you have an ally in your corner :) . Like you, I felt that she seemed more focused on catering to housewives with no real-life issues, and I was tired of people flocking to her every word like she was the new God. It would have been nice to have her make her show more well-rounded, and inclusive of every demographic, but sadly, it was not to be. As a result, I haven’t tuned in to the OWN network once.

    With that being said though, I disagree with the statement that more reality TV is needed. You see, I don’t watch that either. I understand that there are some people who have the common sense to watch this crap and understand that it should only be for entertainment; but I have seen far more people really start to mirror their lives around people who are also out of touch with reality, just in a different way. My concern is that too many insecure people are watching more insecure people on TV, and thinking that this is what their life is missing. I can’t seem to catch up on the news without seeing some headline related to a reality star doing something stupid. I mean, honestly, how many times must you see someone take off their shirt, talk about sex, hook up with several people, roll their eyes, buy shoes, throw drinks in the faces of other people, or pretend to like someone, only to talk about them behind their backs? My now ex-boyfried watched all of these shows religiously, and it was a true turnoff. Isn’t that the type of stuff we say we want to keep out of our inner circle? So why continue to glorify it on TV….on every channel? Additionally, why do we feel that the only way for Oprah to show that she is “down” with us, is to bring some lousy hip hop artist on to represent us? Little Wayne? Seriously? I would like to see her include more African Americans, absolutely, but how about some who have character IN ADDITION TO talent. How about Ledisi? Maybe giving Eric Roberson, and other artists like him, a major outlet for people to hear their music? Well, is there really anyone like Eric Roberson? I digress…I’m just saying that, as a Black woman who isn’t a fan of hip-hop (yes, we exist), I would like to be represented too.

    Your suggestion for sitcoms was excellent. When I do watch TV, unfortunately a lot of what keeps my interest are old shows, and I would love to see something new, that isn’t “Law and Order” or “CSI” related, that could keep my attention like Living Single, Martin, Friends, Seinfeld, and Two and Half Men (with Charlie Sheen, of course) do. So far, Modern Family seems to be the only one to keep my attention recently that’s still on the air. I actually hated the show Girlfriends, but if Kelsey Grammar could come up with a concept like that, I would love to see what Oprah could come up with. Still, her focus would have to change, and include more people than “Becky” on Wisteria Drive, and I don’t know if she’ll ever do that.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      Allison, I totally get what you’re saying and respect your opinion on reality TV. However, the focus of this piece was not to say, Just add reality TV and you’ll be a success. The point was that maybe adding in more options of different types of programming, with stories told in a different way (along with what she already offers) should be an option. Just like you have your preferences, so do millions of other people who make up ratings numbers and profit margins.

  • joy

    But OWN has does have Reality TV: Sweetie Pie’s is Basketball Wives without the “blows” more like Braxton Family Values a real Black family. Unfaithful is another show you might like real stories of Black and white couples. As far as LBGT themes, I would say OWN has a few too many Rosie and many of the Lisa Ling episodes cover the topic and others like it but in the raw & in-your-face form. I would suggest that you watch for a two weeks then judge.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      Hi Joy. Thanks for commenting. I’m very familiar with Sweetie Pies’ show (as well as other programming offered on OWN) and am a great fan of the Sweetie Pies brand. However, there needs to be more than Sweetie Pies to make a full network a success.

      Also, again, just as many others have made the point that reality TV does not represent the likes and desires of all viewers (though it has a stronghold on the TV market), neither does Rosie O’Donnell SOLELY (who’s brand I respect as well) make up what others in the LGBT community want or need when it comes to content and the way the stories/interviews/features are done. Also, just to point out that her show was cancelled, an indication that it longer worked successfully for OWN’s business model.

    • Noell

      Oprah clearly does not have a team that is in touch with what people want.

      When Oprah brought Rosie to Own, I knew she was not in touch. I knew that she would not get the ratings (Donald Trump said the same thing). People do not watch Rose…her show was canceled before…and ratings for The View dropped when she was on the show…I stopped recording the view when Rosie joined…she gets angry if you do not agree with her beliefs.

      That show failed immediately.

      Hopefully, the network will listen to the people.

    • trapped

      you sound like a closeted opera fan and a hater!

    • Karen Denise

      I do not understand why OPRAH doesnt find the public access television producers worthy of her help !!! Why doesnt she she us a fellow and sister producers????Thousands of community minded people reaching for
      higher goals….Wake up Oprah !!! Maybe we little people can help build your network!!!

    • gale

      I cannot respond to your column until I assess your intent. Was it your purpose … your intention, to sound quite as stupid as you did, or was that an accident of nature?

    • simon si

      I don’t think the issue is about the sad fact that modern TV viewers are more attracted to mud than substance, it’s rather about whether a TV station is in business to service only a small demographic of book-reading and politically-centrist viewers. The Oprah show on ABC survived that long because it was already part of a network with a distinct identity, and the show jelled well with ABC viewers, a good portion of whom were already book-readers with no distinct political ideology. Having said that, ABC is a very long-running network, and is readily accessible to all viewers free of charge, hence it’s a lot easier for shows with the Oprah-like format to achieve success. However, for a cable channel, the paradigm of success should be viewed entirely different. To establish an identity, it needs first to target a distinct demographic. So instead of trying hard to force-feed a particular brand of programming to an already ultra-fragmented & saturated cable viewership, they need to study the entire cable viewership and find out which sub-demographic may offer the most viability and simply target that group, irrespective of any pre-conceived notions about what good and bad programmings are. This is not about Oprah’s viewing taste, it’s rather about the viewers. Yes it’s true that mud sells quicker, but it’s not what you necessarily air, but really how you go about airing it. Oprah’s biggest mental obstacle is her failure to realize that her job is not about pleasing her own viewing taste, but it’s rather about pleasing the viewers. Simply put, it is the big economics 101 elephant in the room in cable business she failed to notice. My advice is simple, find that cable sub-demographic that you can easily snatch away either because their current viewing needs are not being met fully, or because of other reasons, and give them what they want. You are Oprah Winfrey after all, you shouldn’t have any trouble wrestling them away as long as you are giving them what they want, as opposed to force-feeding them your OWN brand of viewing preferences.

    • Jess

      Not all of us are into the reality TV nonsense. I watch OWN sometimes, (right now matter of fact; “Investigation Discovery”), but my channel is the Hallmark Channel and MeTV. One thing is true, “reality” TV is taking over. They even have “reality” gospel shows. SMH.

    • Howard Angel

      Everyone has his/her own time to make a fortune or fame. Although Oprah lost her Midas touch, she is still one of the richest bitches in the TV land.
      Just wish that there are more good/quality entertainment in TV nowadays but since reality TV is so popular one would assume it only caters to majority of people with lowest IQ with no common sense or just having no interesting life.

      Reality TV = Trashy Entertainment

  • Meredith

    What is ratchetness? Do you mean wretchedness? (Though I don’t see how wretchedness could help her show….)

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      Rachet is a popular slang word used today to describe anything that is outside the norm, out of control, or shocking.

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  • LL

    I get your point. I think you went to the extreme to explain it (suggesting over-the-top reality, cat-fights, etc.), but I get it. I disagree she needs to do that specifically to lure in the viewers, but I DO agree there should have been a BRAND already established. Every network has a specific audience…I love Discovery Channel, Food Network, National Geographic and MSNBC/CNBC. But, I’m a professed news and business geek and that’s what appeals to ME. Not all minority women enjoy the sassy reality shows. I’ve watched them, yes, but I don’t get caught up and frankly, they disgust me. So I understand where you’re going, but there has to be a happy medium that’s not so extreme on the ‘reality’ end. I do know that her network can’t be all things to all people. But who exactly does the network appeal to? Who is the core audience? This is where the branding comes in. I think they failed to identify their core market.

    I don’t know or understand the financial (legal) implications of possibly moving her talk-show to her network for at least a year instead of ending it completely. She had the power to end it, she should also have to power to move it. Her network could have been the new home for her show and then she could have ended it after pulling in her fans. I have no idea how realistic that would have been. I get that she was tired of that and felt she needed to move on to a different point in her career. But I think she (and her ‘people’) truly underestimated the loyal following she has (some women were SO ‘distraught’) and to end her show prematurely before providing a solid, replacement was a mistake. Her true fans had no where to go to get ‘Oprah’ content after her show went off the air. She made them go cold turkey. I personally think she should have started the one-on-one interviews like Joel Osteen, Paula Deen, etc., as soon as she ended her show. That would have made her followers tune in and stay tuned in. I also feel that she should be doing more Oscar-type specials with women like Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. We need(ed) to see those types of interviews on a more regular basis. I don’t think she interviewed enough of those type of women on her show.
    Show reruns of OLD shows and old crime/investigative series doesn’t get folks excited. I can turn to Oxygen LIfetime and WE TV for that kind of stuff.

    I like and admire Oprah because of what she’s accomplished and how she’s excelled, but not so much about what she believes or what she pushes. I agree that for years her niche of followers (and shows) has been bland and devoid of real diversity and real folks.

    Thanks for the chance to discuss this. I think though, you could have explained your point a little better than using the examples you gave. I think that’s why all the comments are focusing solely on the ‘cat fight’ comments. You went there so hard (with the hip-hop etc), that it overpowered the original intent of your article. And actually, your responses to some of the comments do a better job of explaining your point than your article.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I’m def. with you on the fact that the discussion is healthy and needed, even if people don’t agree. Also, I stand by my examples and exactly what I wrote simply because what I wrote is what I meant. That is me. Those elements are part of me, my personality, my voice; They reflect part of what I find to be entertaining or engaging on television. With this piece, I sought to shed light on ideas that relate to the discussion on why exactly OWN is not doing well. They’re not the end-all be-all, nor do they hold the magic key to OWN becoming successful. It was ONE piece of insight part of what should be a multidimensional discussion.

  • ArtisticScientist

    Not being an Oprahpheliac myself, I don’t/won’t/can’t embrace all that is truly Oprah. I’m proud of her success, but the constant preaching of Oprahness, or Oprahistic or Oprahology is quite frankly a bit nauseating.

    In regards to her “embracing” the reality show concept, Oprah practically created the reality show concept with some of her output from the 80′s. Oprah had more freaks and weirdos on her show than all of the worst reality shows combined. In her defense, she was competing with and against the Phil Donohues, the Jerry Springers, the Maury Poviches, etc, but the line of good taste and intelligence still must be drawn and adhered to.

    If Oprah wants to build television into the media that it could be and should be, then let’s create something new and exciting by going back to the past to rebuild the future. Sit-coms, made-for-TV/Cable movies, compelling interviews and news features still move the needle and sell product. I didn’t watch O’s interview with the Houston family, but I know a lot of people that did and they enjoyed seeing the family’s dynamic even if they didn’t totally agree with them. We all don’t need to love something for it to be compelling viewing. Come on, Oprah…make me feel something and I’ll come back again and again.

    Oprah makes many concessions in her quest to be conveniently African-American, but the African-American audience is the one who may not be able to break her, but for sure they can make her and make the OWN network must see TV.

    In the words of Marvin Gaye, come on Oprah, “talk to me so you can see what’s going on”…

    …find a path or make one…

  • Angela

    Own has a great line up. Perhaps if people would watch some of the shows, they’d know this. Too many people make assumptions and pass judgement on things they’ve heard. I do like like Oprah’s personality. I wouldn’t want to have dinner with her. However, she sends great information and positivity to the world. Suze Orman’s Money class was great, Oprah’s Lifeclass- great, Sweetie Pies- Great. Her interviews are very interesting. The Sunday morning documentaries get to tell stories that i never would found on my own. Just as I don’t watch every show on any other network, i don’t watch every show on OWN. To suggest that anyone appeals to the lowest denominator is ludicrous I rarely watch BET. But I respect their right to display whatever the owners deem profitable. I respect what Oprah is doing. The type of thinking that this article presents, bothers me. It seems to be written in a serious vane, but i can’t help but think “surely you you jest”. OWN may not be doing as well because in my area you have to pay for a certain cable package to receive it. OWN is in competition with prime time shows now. I DVR most shows. Her programming is top-notch for a new network. OWN is a master of branding. She is going to tweak the programming to find the right mix. I pray she doesn’t follow the author’s juvenile, close-minded advice. (Janell please don’t respond to every posts; it’s very annoying.)

    • Angela

      Correction: I meant I do NOT like Oprah’s personality.

      • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

        Thanks for commenting Angela. And I respond because I like to interact with readers. Their opinions and insights matter to me, thus I respond and I say so, just as I’ve done here :) Have an awesome weekend and again, thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Mary

    Did you really say that Wendy Williams was a mentor in you head? I would hope that you could find a better mentor than Wendy who is not a good representation of black women. I hope that you are not a paid employees of the magazine.

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  • Gimmy

    I am didn’t know what ratchetness is a new word. Now I will use it to scary my son )))

  • Calvin J. Adolph

    When I first read this article, I instantly recognized it as the stuff of Limbaugh. I thought it was crafted only to provide shock value and open dialogue about the subject. Just because every demographic watches shows like “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and “Flavor of Love” does not mean it is good for the African American community. As I continued to ponder your article I was immediately transported back to “The Cosby Show” of the 80′s. Even as a young, African American growing up in a two parent household, I thought the Cosby family was not very realistic (A doctor and a lawyer in the same family with adorable kids who never gave them any problems; living in a middle income, diverse neighborhood with friends of every hue and perspective). That was until I learned that my view of African American life was very limited (and my subsequent enrollment at Howard University opened me to the reality that this lifestyle existed). I also applauded shows such as “ROC”, but we didn’t support such shows unless they offered us a “minstrel” character such as Max in “Living Single”, George Jefferson in “The Jeffersons”, and JJ in “Good Times”. To bring all of this to a close, I believe that we as a race need to embrace shows that offer a positive perspective on life while also realizing that everything is not always rosey.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      Thanks so much for commenting and reading. I like that you expressed your thought process in reading this piece. I never like to write things simply for shock value. Though certain factors may get someone interested in reading a piece — media IS a business — there, for me, always has to be a truth in what I feel and how I express it via this blog. So your comment really resonated with me in that you indicate the full process of how you read this, which I think is awesome.

      I was a BIG fan of Roc and also Charles Dutton, who himself turned his life around after serving time in prison and is a prolific activist who made many strides in TV and film that often go unpublicized. I think Roc showed a slice of life that was not always embraced in TV for a target that at the time was again being pigeon-holed.

      The point about Max I’ll have to kindly disagree. But the point of this blog still remains that the programming offered needs to be diversified (not JUST racially but in the way stories are told, the types of stories told and types of programming offered.)

  • Lindsay

    Good suggestions (even though it took two years to make the point!); but I think the catfight/reality show aspect of the post is a horrible idea, and if Oprah were to do this, she’d be banned from my t.v. screen; isn’t this what we’re trying to get away from? Yes even RHOA; the only one IMO that keeps it real is The Braxtons.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      LOL @ “two years”… Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I think reality TV can be many things, not just those. They’re examples but I think Oprah can take reality TV into a diverse realm in terms of content

  • SylTheDeal

    Oprah should stand her ground. The network isn’t for everybody and honestly I would rather turn the televison off than watch the smutt that is “reality t.v.”. I won’t venture deeply into how the masses are being manipulated into a very violent, hateful,nonproductive, superficial pryadigm. Those who are interested in that type of entertainment wouldn’t hear me. What Oprah is missing is diversity. The only voice you hear is Oprah’s. If positive television is her goal – open it up to a variety of positive views.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

      Thank for reading and commenting (And yes, I am saying this GENUINELY to everyone who reads our posts on BlackEnterprise.com)

      Yes, diversity! I’m so glad w’ere “here” on that! Love Oprah and what she offers but adding some things might help push rating up and expand brand more.

  • Henrietta B.

    First and foremost your article raises valid points but it also dismisses important ones. Oprah built an empire, when everyone said she couldn’t, she did it! As should we all as strong black women, inspire to be great! It doesn’t mean that because her show focuses on the day to day nuances of life should she join the rest of the channels and showcase reality TV. Reality is far less reality and more salacious gossip and unwarranted rude behavior. Basketball wives is entertaining but these women are not role models, anyone aspiring to behave in that manner needs to check their pride and dignity out the door. The more absurd and stupid you behave on a show like that, the likelihood your contract will be renewed following season. Oprah I am sure will not and does not, condone the subjugation of women, the way they are obviously portrayed on these shows. Oprah has an audience, she speaks to us, it’s up to us to either take heed or otherwise. No one, least of all Oprah has said that her word is the gospel truth. Sure, she needs to make some changes, but integrating a salacious reality TV show is not the answer.

  • Jason Brinkley

    I’m sorry but why should Oprah Niggafy her network so you can enjoy it? Instead of embarrassing us like BET seems hell bent on doing at every turn she’s decided to build a network for people who are on a higher level of thinking and for that I thank her.

    • Linda

      Thank you and I totally agree. I am Black and I have never seen ANY of these reality shows and never plan to….Dont cave Oprah and stoop to the level of the so called writer of this piece.

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  • Mocha

    Well, as far as the LGBT community goes, OWN supposedly did a documentary on Chaz Bono, and I thought I saw an ad for a similar program. Anyway, OWN simply doesn’t interest me. When it was first launched, the programming was clearly targeted towards the same mainstream (white) female audience that her talk show had, but after several months of dismal viewership, now it seems Oprah is trying to swing back to the Black demographic, promoting the network on the Steve Harvey Morning Show and what not. You struggle, and now you want to appeal to us? No thanks. Now, I don’t agree with the article about including “ratchet” programming, as we get too much of it on VH1, BET, MTV, E!, and Bravo. I just feel that she should have included us in her target demographic from the beginning, and not after the first quarter ratings were in the toilet.

    • Noell

      I completely agree with OWN catering to the white audience.

      It is a waste to use Black venues to advertise when the programming is created for a different viewer.

  • Calvin J. Adolph

    If OWN was on basic cable like all of the “other” programming that has been discussed, would we even be having this conversation? The truth of the matter is that OWN is not accessible to everybody because of its placement on the deluxe cable channels. I would also like to add that 1 billion dollars in no way could sustain a network. How many people are watching the Bounce TV network?

    • Noell

      What is the Bounce TV network?

  • J J

    So good that those claiming journalist in their title and work for the Graves it seems “out” their less than skills. This is funny and could be a great stand-up routine.

    This is my first and last glimpse – no need to answer me, I won’t see it. I do not watch OWN either, just so many other topics for the space.

    Earl and sons, where is the usual “journalist” in this online presence? See you all soon.

  • Joia

    To me, OWN is the acronym for Oprah’s Whitepeopleonly Network. Even racist FOX TV isn’t as discriminatory as OWN. And how anyone can say they love “Dr.” Phil, I don’t want to know. Oprah and OWN discriminate more against offering on screen media opportunities to blacks than any television station since the 1970′s. We all know that Oprah built her empire on promoting white supremacy and the white demographic market place, but when does one say, I’ve done well enough to bring others into the fray, particularly those who but there for the grace of God go I, a poor, black, disenfranchised black girl from MS. Oprah’s “success” is a classic example of putting a black face on discrimination and then pretending it isn’t. How about some black movies, some black talk show hosts. How about some diversified game shows and/or competitive action shows with diversity as a theme. How about one or two other blacks on the show other than one other black person more than me Oprah, is one too many. How about some intelligent kids shows, and cooking shows. Anything but another stupid “reality” show. How about some music and comedy competition shows. There are so many areas that could fill this sad television programming now a days, but it would be nice to see some ethnic diversity, especially some black faces on OWN — Oprah’s Whitepeopleonly Network. It’s real hard to celebrate America’s first “black owned” network when there are no black folks featured in programming.

    • Marcus

      I guess you love you some BET!

      Ignorance is bliss

  • Mike

    It’s clear that you don’t watch or have given OWN a chance. My family and I enjoy watching OWN programming for the simple fact that it’s not geared toward hoochy-momma…whoyasleepingwith…oh no you didn’t…getyahairdid…big baller shot caller mess that people are running to. We watch because FINALLY…FINALLY we can watch programs that has substance…we can watch and walk away feeling like someone finally gets it. A network that finally get that black people are people and can appreciate growth.

    What black people need to understand is, just because someone black get something does not mean it needs to be watered down to trash like what other networks have done to please those type of people. FINALLY a network that has proven…even if the ratings are down…it has proven that a standard has been set and Ms.W is not going to bow down to trash just so that you and others like you would tune in to see black women disrespect not only themselves…but their mothers with their behavior.

    Stop being the bottom crab pulling down the ones getting out of the hater nation. Did you complain when ‘white’ BET took off Teen Summit…did you write and suggest to Ms.W to have such a show? What have you done to add to the promotion of life other than complain about Oprah’s achievement?

    Journalist..I think not..someone with a keyboard and broadband..yes. Most of the comments here that agree with you are also what makes us enjoy OWN… how we live is represented.
    This is shameful…very shameful and it’s feed by what you enjoy..ghetto trash that lines the suburban pockets.

    If you choose to watch watered down…go right ahead. I respect a person that has standards and stick to them. If that makes her less black in others books…SHAME ON YOU AND THEM. If a young woman thinks she can improve her life with NeNe ReRe E E and basketball wives…let’s send up prayers right now. What OWN offer is what we all need…Grounding in this crazy mixed up…say it anyway…do it anyway…show it anyway world. Just because she looks like me is not why my family supports her…it’s because she’s sharing a GIFT from above to enlighten and enhance lives. Sorry you’re missing out on the gift…if you tune in you could learn something from her Life Classes for class…learn something from MsRobbie “SweetiePie” (a reality show)about running a business..caring for family etc…hangout and learn something about family dos and don’t with Beverly…see how the forgotten community Hero’s change lives “Spiritual Sunday”…the list goes on.

    You’re way off base…why work hard to have your own and make it look like others for a crowd you don’t hang out with anyway just to get rich off their ignorance. It’s sad that we as a people can’t except change with a grain of salt and spoon full of sugar…it’s time to wake up and support. Want something inspiring…then support OWN and it will grow and spread to the younger crowd with something to change their thinking from bare it all to ‘have it all’. We need to stop wanting and gripping and start being apart of the achieving. God Bless You My Sister.
    (oh and to the above commenter: you surly don’t watch…lol…black folks are featured in programming…stop believing the hype and check things out for yourself)

  • Von

    Shame!!! I support Oprah Winfrey and we all should. She is trying to get to the next level. How many black networks do we have, including Oprah 3, if you still include BET that is now white owned. So it’s really just 2 black owned. Once she gets established, then she can add more black and controversial shows. I feel that she had a great strategy to have shows with lifestyle, purpose and learning. She does have some reality-that’s positive. If we want to move to the next level as a race-please know supporting Oprah is a major duty. Once we gain power, we can employ more blacks and open up more doors. If she succeeds, other races will respect her more and then respect all African Americans more. If she fails, they laugh behind our backs and celebrate.

  • trapped

    this story was written by a closeted opera fan and a hater

  • Marcus

    Beyond the numbers, I’m not surprised. I’ve never been a major fan of the Oprah Winfrey Show or OWN.

    So you writing this piece subjectively yet trying to indicate you are being “objective” in your analysis?

    FYI-all the major networks have lost serious dollars in the last 5 years with the exception of the Fox Network(go figure). Now if the company is still losing money in year 5 there might be a problem.

    Did Mr Graves approve of this article? Kind of goes against everything he writes about in the Publisher’s Page of the magazine every month.

  • simon si

    Unless Oprah rethinks her strategy of force-feeding her own genre taste on viewers, she’d probably be better off with a Facebook-like social media site where she could easily attract her already long list of admirers. In my opinion, she would be a lot more successful with a social website dedicated to the kind of genre discussions she was so successful with on the Oprah Winfrey show. In fact, a social website would be the ideal media format for what she wants to accomplish, in terms of her devotion to clean media with a utilitarian nature.

  • Linda

    Unfortunately, there are those who have allowed that type of messy, catty, world into their spirit. I always tell people watching Real Housewives, Maury Povich, Jerry Springer-type stuff kills brain cells. It kills brain cells and heart cells. I don’t want to see a Lil Wayne who is helping kill our communities. If Oprah has to go down because she won’t stand for that type of mess, so be it. I will continue to watch and if it goes off, I’ll read a book.

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  • http://twitter.com/1PMChannel Princess P.

    I love Oprah and support everything she does.  However,  I think she made a HUGE mistake trying to run her own network.  I love the idea but I felt her power and presence was suited for the talk show which made her a billionaire and one of the most powerful and wealthiest woman in the world.  Running a network is 100 harder than hosting a talk show. I think Oprah underestimated the power of her tv show. Reaching millions internationally and globally.  That was her goldmine.  Oprah did not think of her fans when she decided to own her network.  Many of her fans do not have expanded cable so automatically there was a significant drop in viewership.  I think Oprah should resurrect her talk show on the network and fold her fledgling network OWN.  To the writer of the article:  Who has Wendy Williams as a role model???

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