OPJAH! Nikki Finke Reports Oprah to Leave Syndication, Move to L.A. in 2011
This morning, Nikki Finke rattled the cages at CBS by breaking news that Oprah Winfrey will leave her syndicated talk show in 2011, taking her program to the long-awaited Oprah Winfrey Network, which Finke alleges will launch the same year. The move is surprising for everyone including CBS Television Distribution, the company that syndicates Oprah's show and had not heard of her 2011 plans, and Roland Emmerich, who realized that this is the single apocalyptic event he overlooked in the making of 2012.
Finke reports that the impending move was partly forced by the Oprah Winfrey Network partner, Discovery Communications.
[Oprah insiders] say that Discovery Communications chief David Zaslav has demanded that Oprah "move it or lose it" -- move her talk show to OWN, or risk losing the Oprah Winfrey Network altogether. I've learned that in coming days Winfrey and Discovery will issue a press release announcing OWN's on-air launch for the start of 2011. And, in several weeks, Oprah will tell the public that she's ending her syndicated Chicago-based daytime talk show when her current deal runs out and moving it to OWN headquarters in Los Angeles probably as soon as mid-2011.
In an update to her story, Finke reported that CBS insiders were caught off guard by the news, expecting Winfrey to renew The Oprah Winfrey Show another one or two years after her distribution deal with King World (part of CBS Television Distribution) expires in 2011 at the end of her 25th season. Oprah reportedly canceled phone calls with CBS chief Les Moonves in early October, when the two were scheduled to discuss the show's future.
Oprah's move to her own network is similar to Howard Stern's transition from terrestrial to satellite radio in 2006. The media empress will have complete control over the network's programming, branding and creative vision.
The cable crossover is risky, considering Winfrey will likely lose more of her already declining audience, but this idea has been in the making for fifteen years, according to the larger-than-life personality: "Fifteen years ago, I wrote in my journal that one day I would create a television network, as I always felt my show was just the beginning of what the future could hold."