The Queen of Talk shows, Oprah Winfrey's channel, Own has shown a slight decline in ratings after its explosive debut in Jan 2011.

The ratings have come down from a million viewers averaging for its premier show to 822,000 on Sunday, Monday fell to 394,000, followed by Tuesday at 315,000. In the network’s target of women 25-54, OWN went from an opening night rating of 0.6 to a 0.2 on Monday, according to the latest reports in Entertainment Weekly.

People at OWN are not worried too much. According to them, this happens with every new show when the curiosity levels draw more viewers and when it is satisfied the channel/show settles down to real time ratings.

OWN CEO Christina Norman points out that the network is just getting started, and on its way to its goal of 600 hours of original programming.

“Launch is only the beginning for us,” she says. “Our goal was to double Discovery Health Channel’s ratings and move from a network ranked in the 40s to a network ranked in the 20s. So far we’re meeting those figures.”

Discovery Health has been converted to OWN and some cable and satellite operators are resisting Discovery’s demand for a hike in fee. It has been tripled from 7 cents per subscriber to nearly 20 cents. Discovery is also all set to hike its investment in programming for OWN to $162.3 million a five-fold increase in spending from Discovery Health. They intend to generate $101.7 million in ad revenue in the first year. Discovery Health made $18 million from ad revenues, according to a Bloomberg news report.

Good Move

Media pundits and observers say it has been a good strategic move by Oprah to tie up with Discovery. Her days as daytime queen were numbered with declining ratings. In 1991-92, ratings for the show averaged 12.6 million viewers, double the 6.2 million who collectively tuned in from 2008-09.

Access to alternative channels of information out there in the cyber space, niche formatting and viewing have cut into her viewers.Besides the countless cable networks vying for viewers, online video and social media are now also taking viewers away from their living room sets.The downward economic trend has also forced a lot of women to take up jobs cutting into her target audience.

This in turn translates into less advertisers anxious to spend money on scattered audiences. Earlier, an endorsement on Oprah and appearance in her time slot paid dividends, not so now.

Transition may pay

With a slew of programming featuring her old favorites like Dr Phil, Laura Ling, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Suze Orman, and new ones lined up like Rosie O’ Donnell and Sarah Ferguson and a Gayle King talk show, her channel people are very positive about the outcome. OWN’s backers are counting on the power of the Oprah brand.