Tyler Perry signs TV deal with Oprah’s OWN
Tyler Perry, the prolific television producer behind sitcoms like “House of Payne,” will soon start to produce shows exclusively for OWN, Oprah Winfrey’s cable network.
The partnership between Mr. Perry and Ms. Winfrey, announced Monday, amounts to the biggest programming bet made by OWN since its premiere in January 2011. The network has struggled to define itself and draw an audience since then, though it has started to show some progress in the ratings in recent months. Ms. Winfrey’s partner, Discovery Communications, expects the network to turn a profit in late 2013.
Mr. Perry will take a small equity stake in OWN, though the amount and the other financial details of the deal were not disclosed on Monday. OWN called it a “multiyear deal.”
In the future, OWN will be Mr. Perry’s “singular destination for all new television series and projects,” the network said Monday in a news release. The network plans to premiere two new scripted series made by Mr. Perry sometime in mid-2013.
The deal with OWN signals that Mr. Perry has ruled out the creation of a cable channel of his own. Last year, The New York Times reported that Mr. Perry and the distributor of his films, Lions Gate Entertainment, were considering creating such a channel, tentatively called Tyler TV. One option for carriage at the time was a takeover of the TV Guide Network. Ms. Winfrey and Discovery Communications created OWN the same way, by taking over the Discovery Health Channel.
Instead, Mr. Perry is collaborating with a fellow media mogul and friend, Ms. Winfrey. The partnership is certain to consume a large portion of OWN’s annual programming budget, particularly because it involves scripted shows, which are more expensive to produce than unscripted shows. Until now, OWN has broadcast only unscripted series.
“You have one of the most talented producers in Hollywood who has walked away from other opportunities, and he is betting his television future on OWN,” said David Zaslav, the chief executive of Discovery, in an e-mail. “In a business where content is king, that is a huge endorsement — and no question that Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey make a pretty powerful consumer and brand proposition.”
OWN will most likely give Mr. Perry two nights of the network’s prime-time schedule; Ms. Winfrey’s shows also take up two nights of the schedule. The other nights will have other unscripted shows and various repeats from Discovery-owned networks.
Mr. Perry’s current home on cable, TBS, will continue to broadcast repeats of his shows “House of Payne,” “Meet the Browns” and “For Better or Worse.”