TORONTO – It turns out Oprah Winfrey isn’t the only one doing heavy lifting to get her cable network off the ground.
“It’s going to take us some time. The network started off slowly,” John Cassaday, CEO of Corus Entertainment, who runs the Canadian version of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, conceded Thursday during an analyst call.
Cassaday is following Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav and Winfrey herself in urging patience with OWN and its slower-than-anticipated start to life.
OWN Canada launched in March 2011, replacing the former VIVA cable channel.
Corus continues to pump programming dollars into OWN Canada after its first year on air, something it’s also doing with other U.S. brand launches in Canada like ABC Spark.
And Corus’ programming expenditures from its licensing agreement with OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network are to escalate in 2013 and 2014.
While Cassaday conceded OWN Canada had not produced the anticipated return on investment, he pointed to positive signs going forward.
“OWN and ABC Spark are brands that we shepherded in Canada… and upgraded to carry content and brand equity that has real resonance with Canadian audiences,” Cassaday told analysts.
As if to breathe life into OWN Canada, Winfrey will make her first trip north of the border to support her local network when she holds an Oprah’s Lifeclass Tour stop in Toronto on April 16.