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Discovery CEO: OWN to Reach Profitability in Back Half of 2013

Oprah Winfrey

David Zaslav touts ad renewals and ratings gains, saying the Oprah Winfrey "remains on track" to end its losses next year.

OWN, the cable network joint venture of Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications, is "on track" to reach profitability in the back-half of 2013, Discovery CEO David Zaslav said Tuesday.

Previously, the company had promised that the network would reach cash flow break-even some time during the second half of next year and then post profits.

During the cable network group's earnings conference call on Tuesday, Zaslav said that after a 14 percent ratings gain in the first quarter in its core audience of women 25-54, OWN grew viewership around 20 percent in the latest period. And so far in the third quarter, ratings are up more than 50 percent, he added. Overall, that leaves the channel up about 25 percent year-to-date.

OWN founder Winfrey has continued to increase her face time on the network with high-profile interview, including one with Kim Kardashian in June, which became OWN's third most-watched broadcast ever.

Zaslav also told analysts that all eight charter advertisers of OWN during the recent upfront ad sales period re-upped with the network. He said that and the recent ratings that have been exceeding expectations keep OWN on track to turn the profitability corner during the second half of next year.

CFO Andrew Warren also said that losses from joint ventures were reduced somewhat by the improved OWN business trends and lower costs.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai