Reality show Sweetie Pies is the first runaway hit for Oprah's OWN, and the viewer demographic is giving the struggling network some fresh ideas. AdWeek.com announced that OWN will begin courting more African-American viewers — who are largely responsible for turning out big numbers for Sweetie Pies. The docu-series, about an Alabama family running a popular soul food restaurant, is pulling in about twice the viewers as OWN's average.
“Anytime you have a program that pops like Sweetie Pies did, you start looking at what drove it,” OWN president Erik Logan tells Adweek. “And we saw that the African-American audience really had a connection with that show.… We’re going to look at ways to nurture and grow that.”
But will courting Black viewers put Oprah at odds with her broader audience? An analyst at Standard & Poor's thinks so. “Oprah is a brand that goes far beyond the African-American market,” said Tuna Amobi, the company's senior media and entertainment analyst. “I don’t know that it would be a good thing for OWN to so narrowly define its target.”
Network president Logan, however, disagrees. We’re going to nurture the success we had with Sweetie Pies.… [But] it is our job to strike a balance," he says. "The Oprah brand is not niche. The Oprah brand is very broad. How we translate that to the screen is the challenge we have.”
In the meantime, it looks like the viewers will be seeing more Sweetie Pie's and less Life Class on the channel.
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