Discovery Communications has increased its ownership interest in its joint venture with Oprah Winfrey Network or OWN, the company said Monday.
Discovery paid $70 million to acquire an additional 24.5 percent of the network from Harpo, Inc., increasing Discovery’s stake to more than 70 percent.
As part of the agreement, Oprah Winfrey will remain CEO of OWN through 2025. Winfrey’s Harpo Inc. will retain a significant minority interest in OWN.
“Ten years ago, Oprah and I began to imagine what a network, inspired by her vision and values, could mean to viewers across the U.S.,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery, in a statement. “In an increasingly crowded landscape, OWN has emerged as the leading destination for African-American women and one of the strongest superfan brands across all screens and services. This transaction allows Discovery and Oprah to unlock more value from our partnership; extends once more her commitment to the network; and lets us continue our strong work together to nourish OWN viewers with the content they love.”
“Creating OWN and seeing it flourish, supported by Discovery and a rapidly growing group of the finest storytellers in film and television, is one of my proudest achievements,” said Winfrey, also in a statement. “I’m thrilled with the network’s success and excited about this next chapter in our partnership. Together, we’ll continue to inspire our viewers with real-life stories that are emotional and entertaining, connecting them to each other and to their greatest potential.”
Winfrey first conceived of OWN a decade ago and formed a joint venture with Discovery to realize her vision. The network launched in 2011 after Winfrey concluded the 25-year run of her daytime talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, in May of that year.
Since then, OWN has become the top-rated network for African-American women with the top-four original scripted series on ad-supported cable in that demographic. The network has received accolades for such series as Queen Sugar and Greenleaf. Recently, OWN has expanded its relationships with such producers as Ava DuVernay, in whose film, A Wrinkle in Time, Winfrey is starring; as well as Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, executive producers of BET’s The Game and Being Mary Jane; Tarell Alvin McCraney, Oscar-winning writer and producer of Moonlight; and prolific filmmaker Will Packer.
Discovery is in the process of acquiring Scripps, which will make it the owner of five of cable’s top networks for women — including TLC, Investigation Discovery (ID) and OWN — representing 20 percent share of women watching U.S. primetime TV.
READ MORE: The Hollywood Reporter