Oprah Debuts Her "OWN" Network

She's the queen of daytime TV, a literary kingmaker, a publisher of her 'own' magazine, a Broadway producer, and film star. Now, Oprah Winfrey is upping the ante on being a media mogul, launching her own cable television channel on Jan. 1.

At the stroke of noon, the "Oprah Winfrey Network" went on the air and the Queen of Talk became a network mogul, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.

It's a giant bet. Winfrey and The Discovery Channel have reportedly invested $189 million in the 24-7 lifestyle cable channel, featuring Oprah-branded stars like Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, and Rachel Ray.

"I watch all their shows anyway, so just to have it on one channel is great," said Oprah fan Allison Burke.

Viewers can also expect a range of reality shows, with the likes of country music star Shania Twain and the former Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson and a biography show called "Master Class."

Then there's Oprah herself. Her showcase program will take cameras behind the scenes of the last season of her 25-year-old daytime talk show.

Still, she's committed to being "on air" herself only two or three times a week.

"Will people tune in and watch even if Oprah's not there? That's really the wild card," said brand strategist Libby Gill.

Full programs begin Jan. 3, but the network's schedule is in flux. Despite the uncertainty, sponsors like GM, Proctor and Gamble and Target are counting on Winfrey's Midas touch.

"If anybody can pull this off, which has never been done before by someone coming from where she's come from, it's Oprah," said Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times.

One number working against Winfrey is 50, the average age of her audience. Advertisers prefer younger viewers, but Winfrey brings a committed audience to the venture.

"She really speaks to what people want to see," said Gill. "And she's got an interesting way of taking audiences even where they might not know they want to go."

With her name and legacy on the line, Winfrey acknowledges the channel is a work in progress.

"It will show itself to be whatever it's supposed to be," said Winfrey in a Today Show interview.

Winfrey won't retire from her day job for seven months. That's how long the new cable channel will wait for its chief tastemaker to host a new show of her own.
  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.

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