Discovery unveiled a billion-dollar line-up of new programmes at its Upfront presentation in New York last week and TBI was there to see the new shows. How far does a billion dollars go in terms of programming? In Discovery’s case it gets you a raft of new series and returning shows. The range covered by the new line-up is wide, with a new project from Wim Wenders at the more cerebral end and Extreme Couponing at the other.
Here’s a snapshot of the new shows on Discovery’s that wants advertisers to put their money against on its OWN network.
Oprah‘s Encore (OWN)
The fledgling cable network has struggled to hit its stride in the US and arguably what has been missing is the A-list host who has put her name to the channel.
With her network talk show ending in May, Oprah says she will be dedicating herself to getting her cable net on track and Oprah’s Encore is a clear sign of this, a show in which the host and celebrity friends look back at classic moments from The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Verdict: The show that OWN has been crying out for.
Oprah wants her documentary strand to do for factual programming what her book club did for reading. Finding Sarah is one of the original series the network has that it hopes will achieve that. “It is a powerful series about self-worth,” Oprah said. The show follows Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, as she attempts to get her life back on track. “In Britain they say it is airing your dirty laundry in public – and it is just that,” Ferguson says in the trailer.
Verdict: Will generate headlines and buzz, especially with the interest in the US with all thing royalty related. The question is whether the show can deliver beyond the initial hype.
Reality series, produced by Pilgrim Films & Television, about a soul-food restaurant run by Robbie Montgomery, a sixties soul singer and her family.
Verdict: A well-worn format that breaks no new ground. Its success or failure hinges on Robbie, her family and customers serving up enough drama and fireworks.
The Rosie O’Donnell Show
You wait for a big-name talkshow host on OWN and then two come along at once. Rosie O’Donnell will film a new talkshow in Chicago and presented the project at the New York Upfront, accompanied by a full troupe of dancers and Broadway-style lights and show tune.
Verdict: Oprah adds a household name talkshow host to the line-up (other than herself). It will give the cable net extra credibility and if O’Donnell’s turn at the Upfront presentation is anything to go by, it will never be dull.
Why Not? with Shania Twain
The series coincides with Twain’s return to the limelight and follows the country singer’s life. Other musical luminaries including Lionel Richie and Gladys Knight will also appear in the series.
Verdict: solid, original series that squarely targets OWN’s core demo.