As the chairman and CEO of OWN, she oversees an expanding channel that’s now available in 82 million homes. Jointly owned by Winfrey and Discovery Communications, OWN has nearly doubled its prime-time viewership since it launched four years ago, driven by hits such as the reality show Iyanla: Fix My Life and the Tyler Perry drama The Haves and the Have Nots. OWN has now grown into a cable success story, with an average of 539,000 prime-time viewers—not too far off from CNN and Comedy Central. This empire didn’t happen by accident. Winfrey has structured OWN so it can run without her constant oversight, leaving plenty of time to pursue additional projects that she’s passionate about. To make that work, she has installed a pair of trusted longtime employees as copresidents: Erik Logan, who joined Harpo as an executive vice president in 2008, and Sheri Salata, who started as a marketer at Harpo in 1995 and rose to executive producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2006, which she oversaw until the end of its run. The trio refer to themselves as a “three-legged stool” that supports OWN’s organization of about 200 employees, with Logan mostly handling business and operations, Salata primarily steering creative, and Winfrey, of course, as the brand. “I try to surround myself with people who really know what they’re doing and give them the freedom to do it,” Winfrey says.
Winfrey is also the founder, publisher, and monthly cover subject of O, The Oprah Magazine (which boasts a circulation of 2.5 million), as well as an Oscar-nominated actress (The Color Purple) and film producer (Selma). From October 18 to 24, OWN will air Belief, a seven-part docuseries that explores faith and spirituality, which she executive produced. She is the creator of a hugely influential book club, has nearly 30 million Twitter followers, and in general holds such sway over public sentiment that her influence has a name: The Oprah Effect.
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