Oprah Delivers for XM Satellite

Best Ad Sales for Launch in Radio Service's Five-Year History

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Oprah apparently wields the same kind of clout on the radio as she does on TV. The prolific talk-show host joins the airwaves today with "Oprah & Friends," original programming created and produced by Harpo Radio for XM Satellite Radio. The $55 million, three-year agreement is being billed as the most successful channel launch in XM's five-year history in terms of ad sales.
Advertisers including Acuvue, Dove, GE, Iams, JC Penney, SlimFast, Splenda, Target, Warners TrueFit, AirTran, Honda and Rinnai have bought into Oprah's XM radio show.
Advertisers including Acuvue, Dove, GE, Iams, JC Penney, SlimFast, Splenda, Target, Warners TrueFit, AirTran, Honda and Rinnai have bought into Oprah's XM radio show. Credit: WireImage

The biggest boost "Oprah & Friends" has already brought to XM is a swath of new advertisers: Acuvue, Dove, General Electric, Iams, JC Penney, SlimFast, Splenda, Target and Warners TrueFit join existing sponsors AirTran, Honda Motors and Rinnai.

XM categorized many of the deals as investments worth millions of dollars but did not specify specific terms such as the lengths of the advertisers' contracts. Ad revenue is split between Harpo and XM, which took in $20 million in advertising in 2005.

Reaching female demographic
The 24-hour programming will be XM Satellite Radio's main platform for reaching the female demographic.

"We've had enormous growth in subscribers that are women, especially coming out of automotive industry," said Hugh Panero, president-CEO, XM Satellite Radio, which has more than 7 million subscribers. The new channel will provide the opportunity for viewers of Oprah's talk show to migrate to XM, he said.

The programming, which Oprah plugged on her talk show last week, expands her Harpo media empire and will allow her to reach the segment of the female demographic that is in their cars instead of home watching her show.

"This is a 24-hour listening service providing information about your health, wealth and current events," Ms. Winfrey said. "I've been trying to do this on my own for years."

Shows feature familiar faces
The mix of daily and weekly shows, 11 in total, will feature faces familiar to her talk show as hosts offering programming on nutrition, financial advice, home decor and current events.

"Friends" include Maya Angelou, interior design expert Nate Berkus and fitness expert Bob Greene, among others. Oprah herself and colleague Gayle King will provide "reality radio," a weekly segment that runs like a telephone conversation between the two where they discuss news and daily gossip. Guests during the first few weeks of broadcast will include Donald Trump, Jon Bon Jovi and New York Times columnist Thomas Freidman.
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