Now for the bad news (or maybe good — we don’t really know for sure yet). The deal is part of the sale of the majority of shares of OWN, which means Winfrey has gone from a 50-50 ownership partnership with Discovery Communications to Discovery Communications having a 74.5 percent stake and Winfrey having the remaining 25.5 percent. Discovery now owns the majority of the network, even though Winfrey will remain there for those seven years and will still act as the chief executive. This is the first time she’s been less than a half-owner since the network launched in 2011.
This could mean Winfrey is starting to move her eye toward potential other future projects (like running for president). It could also mean that the 63-year-old star is thinking about (God forbid) retirement. But clearly if that’s the goal, it’s a ways away, as she’s still committed to appearing on OWN as well as her job as a guest correspondent for CBS’ 60 Minutes.
“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,” Winfrey said in a statement announcing the sale. “I’m thrilled with the network’s success and excited about this next chapter in our partnership.”
This comes after years of low ratings and staff turnover at OWN, even though it’s long been the top-rated network for black women in U.S. markets.
Hopefully, this deal doesn’t signal any major changes at OWN, and Winfrey will stick around for as long as possible.