Say it ain’t so, O! Oprah Winfrey has sold the majority of the Oprah Winfrey Network to Discovery Communications for $70 million, which means the media company now has nearly 75 percent ownership over the six-year-old brand.
Prior to the sale, OWN was a 50-50 joint venture between Winfrey and Discovery, though she’ll continue to maintain her role as the network’s chief executive. Reportedly, the transaction marks the first time the queen of all media has taken money out of the venture.
“Creating OWN and seeing it flourish, supported by Discovery and a rapidly growing group of the finest storytellers in film and television, is one of my proudest achievements,” Winfrey said in a statement.
OWN was launched in 2011, and despite early ratings struggles and staff turnover, OWN has become the top-rated network for African American women with such popular series as Queen Sugar and Greenleaf. The network has benefited from its relationships with dynamic producers Tyler Perry and Ava DuVernay.
As part of the deal, the 63-year-old will work exclusively for OWN in the basic cable space through 2025.
Headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, Discovery Communications also owns the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC. With a majority stake in OWN, which is available in 80 million homes in the U.S., Discovery can exert more control and consolidate the channel’s revenue and earnings on its balance sheet.
“This transaction allows Discovery and Oprah to unlock more value from our partnership; extends once more her commitment to the network; and lets us continue our strong work together to nourish OWN viewers with the content they love,” Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav said in a statement.
Discovery is reportedly in the process of acquiring Scripps Network Interactive, which owns such female-skewing channels as HGTV and Food Network.