Oprah Persuades P&G to Pay $100M for Reduced Levels of Oprah

Procter & Gamble (PG)'s $100 million advertising deal with Oprah Winfrey for exposure on her in-development cable network continues a grand television advertising tradition: The massive, sight-unseen ad buy.

The deal proves Oprah is a master of her universe. In the traditional TV and cable "upfront" season, advertisers are asked to buy time within shows they haven't seen yet, that aren't going to air until the fall. It's a guessing game designed to create high prices.

Winfrey has gone one further: She's done a huge deal without even having a network to execute it, let alone any shows in production.

If there's one thing that we know about the nascent Oprah Winfrey Network, it's that we don't know much about it. It won't start broadcasting until next year. Ratings? Coverage? Reach? Demographics? There's no information on any of these things. P&G isn't stupid. One assumes there are provisions in its deal with Oprah tied to performance. In other words, if OWN doesn't deliver, P&G will get credit or money back. Right?

OWN gets on the air in January 2011, according to the WSJ, but Oprah's new show won't appear until September 2011, according to the New York Times. Even then, OWN will actually feature less Oprah than we're currently getting. Her syndicated daily talk show is being wound down in favor of a new show on OWN, which will only air twice a week.

P&G is therefore buying a whole lot of non-Oprah airtime. From that perspective, the deal is more of a PR headline for Oprah than it is a meaningful expenditure for the packaged goods giant.

So what will actually be on OWN? According to the New York Times, "a daily telecast of Gayle King's radio show" will be among the highlights. Be still my beating heart.

Image by Flickr user nayrb7, CC.