It also suggests a new model: a future world in which producers and celebrities might bypass the traditional system and go directly to advertisers. It's a world in which personalities with a brand give up some of the cheddar in order to keep more of the cheese and have more control over their destiny. It is not difficult to imagine a scenario in which the ad dollars and the product are a couple and they sell themselves to the most attractive bider, whether it is TV or the Internet.
But I'm getting ahead of myself because first, OWN has to survive, and to do that it has to win in an already-crowded environment of networks targeting women. Leaders include the Oxygen Network and Lifetime (a joint venture that includes Disney, the parent company of ABC News).
These networks have a head start and are well-heeled. But even with the generous lead Winfrey has allowed them, she is a brand like no other and will, by all accounts, be very visible on the new network.
Advertising agencies, however, have potentially bigger worries. Like the record industry, which for years had a monopoly on the way to get wide distribution for music, the agency business is carefully watching every alliance being built that threatens the existing model.
When Oprah gave a car to each member of her audience, a promotion I was privileged enough to be a part of; the world was introduced to the gale force of Winfrey's marketing power. Now, ad agencies, networks, producers and celebrities are waiting with bated breath to see who she gifts this time.
Larry D. Woodard is president and CEO of Graham Stanley Advertising, a full-service advertising agency based in New York City. He is also chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies New York Council and the recipient of many prestigious industry awards, including two O'Toole Awards for Agency of the Year, the London International Award, Gold Effie, Telly, Mobius, Addy's and the Cannes Gold Lion. A blogger and a frequent public speaker, Woodard enjoys discussing the intersection of media, politics, entertainment and technology.