Discovery Communications will become the majority owner of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.
The company said on Monday it will increase its ownership stake in Oprah Winfrey’s network to 70 percent. OWN, which launched in 2011, was previously a joint venture between Discovery and Winfrey’s Harpo, Inc.
“Ten years ago, Oprah and I began to imagine what a network, inspired by her vision and values, could mean to viewers across the U.S.,” Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav said in a statement. “In an increasingly crowded landscape, OWN has emerged as the leading destination for African-American women and one of the strongest superfan brands across all screens and services,” he said.
Discovery paid $70 million to acquire an additional 24.5 percent stake in OWN, after factoring in net debt. Harpo, Inc. will remain a minority investor, and Winfrey will remain CEO of OWN with an exclusivity commitment through 2025.
OWN’s majority stake fits with Discovery’s plans to increase its leverage with pay TV operators and potentially launch its own direct-to-consumer streaming service by acquiring more content. It recently acquired Scripps Networks in July in a cash-and-stock deal worth $14.6 billion. Together, Discovery and Scripps content reach 20 percent of U.S. 25 to 54-year-olds. Adding OWN to the mix could boost African-American viewership numbers.