How OWN Will Benefit From Oprah's Last Show

Winfrey expects to spend more time at the struggling OWN after Wednesday's "Oprah Show" finale

By Lisa Balde
|  Tuesday, May 24, 2011  |  Updated 8:09 AM CDT
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Oprah's producers let the media see the first few minutes of her big shows at the United Center.

Oprah's producers let the media see the first few minutes of her big shows at the United Center.

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Chicago may be gearing up for Oprah Winfrey's finale, but the talk-show star's network appears to be slowing down.

Ratings for the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) fell from an average 204,000 viewers in its first week to 153,000 as of May 15, BusinessWeek points out according to Nielsen data.

Winfrey hopes to turn that around, though, right after she wraps things up in Chicago.

Winfrey ends "The Oprah Show" Wednesday with a still-closely guarded secret finale following two celeb-studded shows taped at Chicago's United Center. On Sunday, Winfrey Tweeted, "A lot of ‘lasts’ today. I’m really feeling like it’s the end. Still all sweet, no bitter."

After 25 years, "The Oprah Show" garners about 7 million viewers weekly. Which begs the question: After success in daytime TV, books and magazines, can Winfrey shake up cable?

So far, it's been a rocky road. OWN announced May 6 that Winfrey and Discovery Communications replaced CEO Christina Norman after just five months.

"With the final taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show only a few weeks away, I will soon be able to devote my full energies to OWN,” Winfrey said in a staff statement announcing Norman's replacement.

Discovery executives are banking on it. Though Winfrey has mostly been absent from her network as she wraps up her show in Chicago, OWN viewers will soon see more of her.

"When you put the Oprah name on a channel, you expect to see Oprah," David Scardino, of ad agency RPA, told BusinessWeek.

Come September, classic episodes of "The Oprah Show" will air along with new intros taped by Winfrey, according to the publication. She's also expected to start the new show, "Oprah's Next Chapter," for which she'll appear in three episodes a week.

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