Oprah Winfrey has given pink slips to 30 full-time employees from her struggling Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) right on the heels of the cancellation of The Rosie Show. This blood bath leaves 90 people on payroll, down from 150 at OWN’s inception 15 months ago.
“It is difficult to make tough business decisions that affect people’s lives,” Winfrey, OWN’s CEO and chief creative officer said in a written statement Monday. “But the economics of a start-up cable network just don’t work with the cost structure that was in place. As CEO, I have a responsibility to chart the course for long-term success for the network. To wholly achieve that long-term success, this was a necessary next step.”
The Queen of Talk has been experiencing some viewership difficulties since starting her network and her Bobbi Kristina Brown interview proved to be her highest rated show with 3.5 million tuning in. A week later, her Lady Gaga’s interview only pulled in 808,000 viewers. It’s clear one highly-rated
show episode can’t pull the weight for the entire network.
According to the Boston Herald, the cuts affected New York and Los Angles OWN offices from the creative services department, integrated marketing to promo scheduling. While some newcomers heads were on the chopping block, seniority was not given security, reportedly the head of the Creative Services Department along with the Senior Vice President of Production Julie Stern was let go.
“It’s like a ghost town over there,” a source said, but “no one was particularly surprised.”
Other changes in work to inflate sluggish numbers for the network include Discovery Communications, Inc., a co-owner of OWN, taking a more hands-on approach with Ian Parmiter, who heads marketing for Discovery, overseeing integrated marketing for the fledgling network.
The firings, which were face-to-face and respectful, will save the network approximately $20 million over the next two years, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“The cost structure was not sustainable; we had to right-size that,” Discovery Senior Executive Vice President David Leavy acknowledged to the LA Times.
In the end, according to TMZ, Oprah and Discovery reportedly offered “generous” severance packages and recruitment services for the released staff to find new jobs.