IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Analyst says Oprah's OWN could lose $143M in 2012

OWN, the pay TV channel jointly owned by Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications Inc., is seen headed toward big losses this year.
/ Source: The Associated Press

OWN, the pay TV channel jointly owned by Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications Inc., is seen headed toward big losses this year.

That's the forecast of Derek Baine, an analyst with SNL Kagan, a research firm that specializes in the economics of the TV channel business.

Baine estimated in a research note Wednesday that 50-50 joint venture will lose $143 million this year after losing $107 million in 2011.

The network has struggled to gain an audience. This month, it made several changes to right itself.

It cancelled "The Rosie Show," featuring host Rosie O'Donnell, after five months on the air due to low audience ratings. Baine said the network had to pay $15 million of what was supposed to be a $40 million, two-year deal.

On Monday, OWN laid off 30 employees, about 20 percent of its workforce, and named Neal Kirsch, chief financial officer of Discovery's U.S. networks, as its chief financial officer and chief operating officer.

Discovery spokesman David Leavy said the analyst's report is "riddled with inaccuracies and bad information."

"The venture is on more solid ground with more business momentum than ever before," he said in a statement. "We remain confident in the future of OWN, and the long-term value we are building."

Spokespeople from OWN and Harpo Studios, Winfrey's production company, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Last month, Discovery CEO David Zaslav remained upbeat about OWN, saying that if its audience grows, it will become a valuable asset. He also touted the fact that Winfrey herself has now appeared several times on the channel, including for an exclusive interview with Bobbi Kristina Brown, Whitney Houston's daughter, earlier this month.

Investors may already be braced for the channel's losses, which are more than covered by profit at Discovery's other channels such as Discovery, TLC and Animal Planet. In the year through December, Discovery posted net income of $1.13 billion, or $2.80 per share, on $4.24 billion in revenue. Analysts see net income dipping just slightly this year.

Discovery shares closed up 92 cents, or 1.9 percent, at $48.33 on Wednesday.