Couch Potato: Oprah expands her reign with network
Oprah Winfrey is the biggest woman in the world – but don’t say that to her face. The ubiquitous television mogul and American institution, who has made endless hoopla about her erratic weight, will soon merge with Discovery to bring into being The Oprah Winfrey Network, which, in the process, will force the discontinuation of the Discovery Health Channel, a virtual operating theater for couch potatoes.
"Fifteen years ago, I wrote in my journal that one day I would create a television network, as I always felt my show was just the beginning of what the future could hold," Winfrey told TV.com. "For me, the launch of The Oprah Winfrey Network is the evolution of the work I’ve been doing on television all these years and a natural extension of my show."
As the first lady of daytime, Winfrey would be able to pursue her "vision" and naturally have total discretion as to what makes it into viewers’ living rooms. At the end of her contract with NBC in the next few years, her talk show will likely make a permanent, and exclusive, home on the new network. How she will fill the other 23 hours of the day are yet to be seen.
In her defense, an informal poll would likely yield an overlap of viewership between DHC and Winfrey’s talk show as they touch largely on the same issues, just from two different perspectives. The tabs on the DHC Web site read as follows: Disease ‘ Conditions, Fitness ‘ Nutrition, Healthy Living, Mental Health, Pregnancy ‘ Parenting and Sex ‘ Relationships.
Winfrey has long predicated her show and persona upon these very same cornerstones. For years, she has really put herself out there to "real" women, and men, who suffer with these kinds of issues and has made herself totally vulnerable. Watching her weight is a national pastime, and viewers all over the country look to her for literary guidance. She even gave birth to Dr. Phil, for what it’s worth. Bothersome quack or not, his mere existence has probably helped push emotion and mental health to the forefront of our consciousness in recent years, more than we would like to give him credit for.
Despite all this, there will be many die-hard fans upset to see DHC go, including this sad spud. The channel may have taken a backseat to traditional primetime, but, to make up for it, it has for the better part of a decade brought to the masses insightful and interesting programs, to say the least. MTV should have been made the sacrificial lamb, as its programs are neither insightful nor interesting.
Alas, the deal is done. At least, for now, we will always have the other Discovery children: TLC, Animal Planet, the Science Channel, Discovery Kids, the Military Channel, Discovery Times, Discovery Home, HD Theater, FitTV and Planet Green, which debuts this year. How appropriate and heartening. Perhaps this is evidence to suggest that it’s true that every cloud has a silver lining after all. Oprah knows best.