Oprah Winfrey told New York Magazine that her early failing with OWN was being too stoic and too serious. This is a not a critique anyone has leveled at the work of Tyler Perry. His soap opera and sitcoms have played a critical part in the network’s turnaround.
For Better or For Worse’s OWN debut earned 1.124 million viewers, the highest Wednesday number in its three-year history. The sitcom, based on Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married” films, moved to OWN this fall after two seasons on TBS. It joins soap The Haves and Have Nots and comedy Love Thy Neighbor as ratings boosters for the network. Like most of Perry’s work, they were savaged by critics but embraced by viewers.
In her New York interview, Oprah said if it were up to her the network would air nothing but her Super Soul Sunday interviews. But she realized lighter fare was necessary to save the network. Thus OWN added reality shows, a soap and sitcoms. Breakouts include its Saturday night hit Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s. It deals with the trials and tribulations of a restaurant owned by Robbie Montgomery, a former backup singer for Ike and Tina Turner.
Perry’s programs have strengthened the weeknight lineup at OWN, making it profitable sooner than Discovery Network had envisioned. His additions to the channel made OWN a Top 20 network among women for the month of June and Top 3 for African-American women.