Oprah Winfrey Network's Biggest Struggles
With Christina Norman out as CEO, THR looks back at the ups and downs of the network.
On Friday, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network announced that Christina Norman is stepping down as CEO.
She's the second chief executive of the network, which she joined in January 2009, from MTV, where she had been president.
She did not reveal her next move, saying in a statement, "As I move on to my next challenge, I am confident the strong foundation we have built will position the network to achieve great things."
Norman will be replaced in the interim by Peter Liguori, the COO of Discovery Communications.
She's not the first executive who has exited the network, which just launched in January 2010 -- after several delays and budget adjustments. General manager Robin Schwartz, digital chief Robert Tercek and chief marketing officer Liz Dolan have also exited. Schwartz was in her job for only ten months.
Programming chief Jamila Hunter was hired in June 2009 and out by October 2010.
Said Winfrey in an email to staff announcing Norman's departure, "I will soon be able to turn my full energies to working with you all. I remain confident that the vision/mission that we established for OWN will be achieved — and we will do it together — as a team."
She has been focusing on her Oprah Winfrey Show, which broadcasts its final episodes this month after 25 years on air.
OWN executives have also announced a delay to Winfrey's flagship show, Oprah’s Next Chapter, which will now launch in January 2012 instead of this fall.
David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications, said Winfrey would be taking a vacation after her show ends and before turning her attention to the format of Next Chapter.
OWN has struggled in the ratings. In the first quarter of 2011, it ranked No. 45 in total viewers and adults 18-49, the key demo that advertisers love. However, Season 25: Oprah Behind The Scenes, has performed strong, and The Judds ended its first season with 502,000 total viewers.
Discovery Communications CFO Brad Singer earlier this year said the company expects to spend an incremental $50 million on top of its original $189 million commitment to OWN .
Zaslav has insisted that he is "fully committed to the brand."
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