Get out your best pitch, Oprah has signed a $55 million deal over three years with XM Satellite Radio to start her own channel called, “Oprah and Friends.” The channel will launch in September 2006, and she will dish out her usual advice on health, fitness and other self-help topics.
From my perspective, this will give individuals and companies with a great story to tell a bigger opportunity to appear on the Oprah platform. Winfrey is well-know as a star-maker for those who catch her eye.
The radio show may even serve as a place for Oprah to “test” a possible guest for her television show or for her magazine. Gayle King, editor at large for O, The Oprah Magazine, will co-host a once-a-week, 30-minute XM radio show with Winfrey. The other time will be filled by personalities that regularly appear on her television show.
Certainly it is a shrewd deal by Oprah to get into a new media and test the waters. Winfrey's career began in local radio, and she described her new XM relationship as “a full circle moment for me.”
The deal with XM calls for the construction of a radio studio in Chicago, where Winfrey and her Harpo media business are headquartered. Calling it a radio “reality show,” she promised it would it would be a huge hit. Harpo Radio, a new entity, will produce the content.
Many analysts and experts feel XM’s move to sign with Oprah was in response to competitor Sirius Satellite Radio, with its three million subscribers, who recently signed Howard Stern. XM has seen some erosion in subscribers to Sirus since the $500 million deal with the shock jock was penned last year.
The $55 million paid to Oprah is a bargain by comparison. Oprah is hoped to draw women, while Stern was brought in to draw young men.