TV Column: OWN launches; John Roberts leaves CNN for Fox News Channel

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 3, 2011; 9:49 PM

The numbers are in for the first day of Oprah Winfrey's network, and it turns out that what people most want to see on the network is Oprah.

About 1.2 million people watched the debut of "Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes," an inside look at the final season of Oprah Winfrey's syndicated talk show. It was the biggest audience on Day One of the network, which is a co-venture between Winfrey and Silver Spring-based Discovery networks.

Other shows that aired on the network on New Year's Day included first looks at "Kidnapped by the Kids," "Miracle Detectives" and "Enough Already With Peter Walsh." An OWN representative did not provide ratings for those shows, promising to release them Tuesday.

The network, however, did want you to know that on Sunday, the first in a series of specials called "Ask Oprah's All Stars" - starring heavy-hitting Oprah proteges Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz and Suze Orman - attracted nearly 970,000 viewers and that "Master Class," featuring Diane Sawyer, copped 602,000 viewers.

And finally, OWN boasted the No. 3 rated ad-supported cable network among women ages 24 to 54 at 8 and 9 p.m. Saturday.

Yes, number three, beaten by ESPN and USA Network. In fairness, OWN, which previously was the Discovery Health network, is not yet as widely distributed as some other ad-supported cable networks - including the aforementioned Disney-owned ESPN and NBC Universal-owned USA. OWN suits say their network is available in 67 percent of American TV homes and 80 percent of the country's cable households.

Roberts to Fox News

Another "American Morning" co-anchor has made his way to Fox News Channel.

FNC announced Monday that John Roberts, who has anchored "American Morning" since 2007, is joining the network to become a senior national correspondent.

The announcement comes about a month after CNN announced its latest better idea for the morning newsfotainment show, which involved mostly removing Roberts. "American Morning" competes, though not particularly effectively, against the likes of NBC's "Today" show, ABC's "Good Morning America," CBS's "The Early Show" and Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends."

Roberts's "reputation as a skilled journalist with years of notable experience in the field will be a valuable addition to our news programming," FNC's senior vice president of news editorial, Michael Clemente, said in Monday's announcement.

Roberts is not the first "American Morning" co-host to make his way to the CNN competitor. In 2005, Bill Hemmer joined the network as a correspondent; he is the co-host of "America's Newsroom."

Roberts had been at CNN since 2006. Previously, he worked at CBS for more than 14 years, serving as anchor of the evening and morning news weekend editions, as well as White House correspondent.

And what about CNN's latest better idea for "American Morning"? In December, the network said it would rotate various people alongside co-anchor Kiran Chetry, starting with T.J. Holmes.


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