Sometimes people lavish extravagant gifts on Oprah that she could totally afford to buy herself. Did we learn nothing from Louboutingate? But a whole half of a TV station ? Excessive, no? But it seems to be what the Discovery Channel is doing with its "cashless" transaction to create OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, from the ashes of the Discovery Health Network. Because although Oprah and Discovery will be "joint owners" of the network, sharing 50/50 in ownership and profits, she's not required to put up any cash to acknowledge that, duh, they own a whole TV channel and she does not. Now, surely, Discovery Channel, which is always on the verge of going public, justified this uneven transaction to its board thusly: "COME ON MOTHERFUCKERS IT IS FUCKIN OPRAH.

SHE PUT NINETEENTH CENTURY RUSSIAN LITERATURE ON THE BESTSELLER LIST IN AN ILLITERATE COUNTRY AND SHE'S DELIVERING THE ELECTION TO THAT KENYAN EX COKEHEAD." Still, cable networks do not come cheap. When Microsoft invested in MSNBC way back in 1996, it put up $300 million for its half-stake. And Bill Gates usually has the "secret" when it comes to negotiating a hard bargain! We took this mystery to an inside source, who said:

Discovery Health was underperforming because they weren't getting enough from cable providers. espn gets what, a $2 of your cable bill? discovery health got about 20 cents (i'm just guessing...it could be less)

Oooh, our long-held fantasy of an ESPN of chicks!

oh, and they might have put a $ sign on what oprah brings to the deal for just being oprah. it's like the bullshit of a brand..but who knows, it might work. but i think evaluating brands is a dark art.

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Well dark art is the only kind of art I own, so I took it upon myself to do a little cocktail napkin calculation on behalf of Jez. See, the press release says Oprah.com gets 80 million page views a month, which is maybe 7 times what Jezebel gets, so maybe someone would like to give us a small, maybe 7%, stake in a TV network? (Yeah, she's got the show and the magazine and all, but think of the demos over here!) Or $10 million cash would be cool too.

Discovery, Oprah Team Up [Washington Post]