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The Oprah Winfrey Network is set to launch some of its most successful programming abroad, starting with the United Kingdom.
The Hollywood Reporter has learned that OWN struck a multi-year deal with Discovery Networks International to export OWN’s highly-rated Harpo productions — Oprah’s Next Chapter, Oprah’s Master Class, Oprah’s Lifeclass and Super Soul Sunday — to TLC’s soon-to-launch British network.
OWN, a 50-50 joint venture between Harpo and Discovery Communications, thus far only has distributed non-Harpo original programming internationally as a part of a partnership with Passion Distribution.
“We’ve been hyper-focused, especially in the last 18 months with Oprah as our CEO, to get the United States on better footing,” OWN president Erik Logan tells THR. “It was a question of determining when and how those rights would be exploited. In utilizing her, you want to think about it more strategically.”
Originally joining Harpo during the latter days of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Logan was quick to note all parties are being more discerning than the “highest bidder” approach taken in partnering with King World Productions for Oprah‘s international expansion.
“There is a strong interest in whatever it is she’s doing, no matter the country,” adds Logan. “She’s a worldwide icon, and since the sun set on [The Oprah Winfrey Show], there are a lot of people, from what we have seen, who are thirsty to see these programs.”
Oprah’s Next Chapter, in particular, has been a boon for the network. Hitting an all-time high in 2012 during the host’s sit-down with the family of the late Whitney Houston (3.5 million viewers), OWN pulled 3.2 million viewers during the first installment of her interview with cyclist Lance Armstrong. That episode and one featuring Justin Bieber are the only two to have aired abroad since Next Chapter launched in January 2011. It was the only OWN property set for TLC U.K. at the time of the announcement.
“That was the trigger to make this a reality,” DNI executive vp and cco Luis Silberwasser tells THR. “Those were two big experiments, and people really gravitated towards the show when it was showcasing two very different kinds of personality.”
TLC gets its U.K. launch on April 30, with the OWN block premiering the next day on May 1. And while both Logan and Silberwasser say that future expansions for Harpo’s signature Winfrey programming are expected, no specific markets have been identified yet.
Other OWN programming will continue to see international distribution via Passion.
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