Oprah Winfrey Calls Building OWN "The Climb of My Life"
At Thursday's Discovery Communications upfront, Oprah Winfrey told attendees that longtime executive producer Sheri Salata has always wanted Oprah to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
VIDEO: Oprah Winfrey gets candid about OWN's struggles; says she thought about quitting last week
Though we don't expect to see Winfrey hiking any time soon, the metaphor was apt.
"I am climbing Kilimanjaro, and it's on Wilshire Boulevard at the OWN offices," Winfrey said, addressing the challenges she's faced in the first 14 months after launching her own cable channel. Earlier this week, Winfrey said she considered throwing in the towel because of the negative attention generated by the laying off of 30 OWN employees and the cancellation of Rosie O'Donnell's talk show.
But that was not the message Thursday. "When I first arrived in July, I felt like I was not even at base camp, and I could only see my feet," Winfrey said. "But with our restructuring and right-sizing, and really getting into the sauce of what needs to happen every day when you're building a channel, I feel like I can at least now see the summit. [We're] nowhere near the summit, but I can see the summit."
Discovery President David M. Zaslav said he was pleased with the channel's growth. "OWN, despite some of what you hear in the press, in the month of March was the No. 28 network in America for women after 14 months," he said. "And we were up in January, February and March. We're building a lot of great content, and you're going to hear more about our continued vision for growth."
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That growth was front and center in a video package that introduced some of OWN's new programming, including Six Little McGhees, a docu-series about raising sextuplets, and Are You Normal?, an interactive game show from the creators of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? "This is a story about momentum," the video said. "OWN is on the move."
And Oprah promised that she would reach OWN's summit by 2014. "Thank you for staying with us during what I call the climb of my life," she said.