Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav Urges Patience For OWN Launch

 Robin Layton/OWN

TORONTO - Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav on Tuesday preached patience for OWN after insisting his cable network joint venture with Oprah Winfrey is set to grow over the next two years.

“My job, Oprah’s job, is to create a meaningful audience for OWN over the next two years. That’s what you should watch for and we’re on our way,” Zaslav told the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference when asked about recent bumps in the road for the launch of the U.S. cable network.

Besides Winfrey being more hands-on with OWN, another weapon to secure long-terms goals for a TV channel devoted to improving people’s lives are African-American viewers.

Zaslav pointed to the docu-series Welcome to Sweetie Pie's on Saturday night, about an African-American family running a soul food restaurant, and a recent episode of Our America With Lisa Ling that profiled African-American men in prison.

Both shows outperformed with African-American TV viewers.

“The African-American community is finding OWN faster than the rest of America,” Zaslav said. Another potential hit show that will drive viewers to the cable network is Winfrey’s new talk show Oprah's Next Chapter, to debut in January 2012.

Zaslav insisted advertisers remain supportive of OWN.

“We’re just getting going. They’re (advertisers) are excited about the mission,” he said.

“We just have a fair amount of work to do over the next two years,” the Discovery Communications topper added.

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