Discovery Boosts Its Stake in Oprah Winfrey Network

  • Cable programmer increases OWN channel interest to 70 percent
  • Deal marks Winfrey’s first payout as part of joint venture

Oprah Winfrey

Photographer: Paras Griffin/Getty Images North America

Discovery Communications Inc. is paying $70 million to Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Inc. to obtain a majority stake in their jointly owned cable channel, OWN.

Discovery lifted its holding in OWN to 70 percent from about 45 percent. Winfrey will remain chief executive officer, according to a statement Monday, and will extend her exclusive commitment to the channel through 2025. It’s the first time she’s sold stock in the network since it started a decade ago.

Winfrey will retain a significant minority interest in OWN, which was founded as a joint venture between the billionaire TV personality and Silver Spring, Maryland-based Discovery. Winfrey is worth $3.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. OWN, which has been increasing its original scripted programming, is part of a Discovery lineup that also includes TLC and Animal Planet.

The deal will allow Discovery, one of billionaire John Malone’s key holdings, to report OWN’s operations as part of its consolidated financial results. OWN began airing in 2008 and lost as much as $330 million in its first four years, Bloomberg has reported. It reported its first quarterly profit in 2013.

In July, Discovery agreed to buy Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. for $11.9 billion in a bet that uniting ownership of cable channels like Animal Planet and HGTV will help the company adapt to a fast-changing television landscape.

Discovery rose 6.7 percent to $20.77 at 2:56 p.m. in New York after climbing as much as 7.5 percent.

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