Oprah Winfrey is taking her act to cable.
The talk show diva who has ruled daytime TV for almost a quarter of a century is pulling the plug when her current deal expires in the fall of 2011. She will likely resurface on OWN, the cable network she is starting with Discovery Communications.
The move was not entirely unexpected. Once Winfrey agreed to partner with Discovery on the Oprah Winfrey Network, there was a general assumption that she would ultimately focus all her creative efforts there. OWN, which was originally supposed to launch this year, is now looking to debut in January 2011.
Winfrey will have an on-air presence on OWN as well as behind the scenes. While OWN is keeping mum, Winfrey is expected to have a daily show, although the approach will probably be different than her current studio audience-and-guest format. OWN declined to comment.
Winfrey made her national debut in 1986 when Phil Donahue was still ruling talk. It didn't take her long to drive him off the airwaves. Over the course of her show's run it has veered from classy and educational to tabloid and sleazy. She spawned a host of imitators and clones ranging from Jerry Springer to Ellen DeGeneres.
Daytime television was a sleepy business that Winfrey revolutionized. Her syndicated show generated hundreds of millions of dollars a year in revenue.