Yet more bad news for the Oprah Winfrey Network: SNL Kagan estimates that its losses could hit $142.9 million this year. Low ratings and bad press could make trouble with advertisers as well as cable operators, says an analyst at the research and investment firm. "We're expecting a big write-down in the first quarter and we would not be surprised to see Discovery ask Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions to finance some of the network's losses going forward," he tells Broadcasting & Cable. "Without a significant ratings boost by year-end, this could be Oprah Winfrey's last chapter in the cable network industry."
But, the analyst adds, ratings were up in January and Discovery Communications continues to be confident that the situation will improve now that Oprah herself is at the helm full-time. In an email to Deadline, a Discovery spokesperson calls the report "riddled with inaccuracies and bad information," and insists OWN "is on more solid ground with more business momentum than ever before."