Discovery Communications has completed a deal with Oprah Winfrey’s prodco, Harpo Inc., giving the company a majority stake in its Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) joint venture.
Under the terms of the agreement, Discovery paid US$70 million to acquire an additional 24.5% share in OWN, bringing Discovery’s ownership stake to more than 70%.
This transaction represents the first time the mogul has taken money out of the joint venture since its inception 10 years ago.
Harpo will retain a minority interest in OWN, and Winfrey will continue in her role as CEO, with her exclusivity commitment to the network extended through 2025.
“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,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery, in a statement. “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.”
Created in 2011, OWN has become the leading network for African-American women, with the top four original scripted series on ad-supported cable, according to a statement from Discovery. The network recently expanded its relationships with storytellers and producers including Ava DuVernay, Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, Academy Award-winning Moonlight writer/producer Tarell Alvin McCraney and filmmaker Will Packer.
With the company’s current female-focused networks, including TLC, ID and OWN, Discovery will be home to five of the top pay-TV networks for women, representing 20% of the share of women watching primetime pay-TV in the U.S. following the completion of the Scripps acquisition.