Two queens of American media are joining forces. The Huffington Post Media Group will launch an Oprah Winfrey section on Huffingtonpost.com in August. The announcement was made by Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, and Erik Logan and Sheri Salata, presidents of Winfrey's OWN TV network.
The Huffington Post's Oprah channel (which won't be called HuffPO) will offer “practical advice and resources encouraging people to discover their best selves and to lead happy, fulfilling lives by taking steps to attain their goals. Topics covered will include personal growth, spirituality and aspects of physical and mental health.”
While that vertical may sound like what readers can find now in Oprah's O magazine and Discovery-backed cable TV channel, the content will be created and curated by writers and producers from OWN and Oprah.com, enhanced with conversations from HuffoPo’s vast network of bloggers in “a mix of articles, blogs and interactive content that will connect with the audience on an emotional and spiritual level.” It could be the answer to Winfrey's prayers.
"We are thrilled to partner with Oprah Winfrey and OWN," stated Arianna Huffington. "Oprah was about engagement and authenticity long before engagement and authenticity ruled the web. And since those qualities are deeply embedded in the DNA of both OWN and HuffPost, I’m delighted that we’ll be working together to enlarge the conversation on living our best lives, as Oprah puts it, just as we launch our GPS for the Soul app" — an idea Huffington has been championing in her public appearances.
Huffington Post readers will be well aware of the struggles that the Queen of Daytime has had in expanding her branding to a 24-hour TV network. A recent article on HuffPost, titled “Oprah Winfrey Network Losses Approach $330 Million,” stated: “The woes that have befallen the Oprah Winfrey Network are by now the stuff of legend: the low ratings. The staff losses. The high-profile bombs like "The Rosie Show." Appearing on CBS News in April, Oprah herself seemed to sum up the dispiriting atmosphere at OWN.
"If I were writing a book about it, I might call the book '101 Mistakes,'" she said… Bloomberg Businessweek reported that the network may have lost a whopping $330 million since it began in 2008. An analyst told the magazine that it was the most "successful failure in television today." Oprah stressed that she was playing a long game. She told the Wall Street Journal that it might not be until late 2013 that OWN, in her words, "finds a vein."
The Huffington Post partnership offers Oprah an engaged audience with its 36.9 million monthly unique visitors (according to comScore's April figures) who post a whopping 6.5 million comments each month, plus 30,000 contributing bloggers. Oprah.com, in comparison, "has been averaging just five million monthly unique visitors," as All Things D notes. HuffPo also now has 66 vertical sites — with the next to launch in early June in Madrid, called El Huffington Post.
Even though Huffington's high-profile partnership with AOL may have been better for HuffPost than AOL, a recent Ad Age article commented that, “The Huffington Post is expanding the way it works with brands in an effort to cash in on the popular brand-as-publisher trend.” According to Jeff Lanctot, global chief media officer at Razorfish, "It would allow a brand to be a publisher and the HuffPo engine would power it so you would get all the social savvy that comes with the Huffington Post."
By marrying her personal brand with Arianna’s, Oprah may, at list, find the much-needed boost for OWN that Discovery's stable of networks and digital properties can't seem to muster. “The special Oprah-branded experience will reach millions of passionate Huffington Post readers in addition to the loyal followers of Oprah.com,” said Salata.