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Oprah Winfrey has swapped most of her interest in OWN for a small ownership in Discovery, home of TLC’s trashy hit reality series, “90 Day Fiancé.”
According to an SEC filing Tuesday, Winfrey nabbed a stake worth less than 1 percent of the $35 million-plus Discovery as part of a deal that boosted the company’s holding in OWN.
OWN, known for “Oprah Winfrey’s Master Class,” “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” and “The Haves and the Have Nots,” is a joint-venture between Discovery, which owns Food Network, TLC, HGTV and other channels, and Winfrey’s Harpo.
Discovery and Harpo’s original deal to form OWN in 2008 included options for Harpo to sell its stake in the network, and ever since, Discovery has slowly been increasing its stake in OWN. According to Discovery’s 2008 annual report, the billionaire media mogul had put an agreement that would require Discovery to buy out a portion or all of her stake in OWN that was set to expire at the end of 2020.
The new deal ups Discovery’s ownership in OWN from 73 percent to 95 percent, and it allows Winfrey to swap most of Harpo’s interest in OWN for voting Series A shares in Discovery, a source told The Post.
Winfrey will continue to serve as chief executive officer and chief creative officer of OWN, though she now owns only a 5 percent stake in it. A rep for Winfrey did not comment.
Now, Harpo owns about 1.34 million shares of Discovery, less than 1 percent of the company’s Class A common stock, and was registering 670,477 of them for possible sale, Tuesday’s filing said.
“Oprah Winfrey has voting and dispositive power over the shares of Series A Common Stock owned by Harpo,” of which she is the sole shareholder, the filing said. It added that Harpo does not have to sell all, or any even, of the shares. It is understood that share sales would cover the tax cost of the deal.
At Monday’s Discovery stock closing price of $27.37, the 1.34 million shares were worth around $36.7 million.
In 2017, Discovery paid $70 million to buy an additional 24.5 percent stake in OWN to boost its ownership to 73 percent, but that deal also took into account net debt at the network, the companies said at the time. Winfrey had agreed then to continue her role as OWN CEO with her exclusivity commitment to the network extended through 2025.
Since OWN launched in 2011, it has been the primary home of Winfrey on television. In 2018, however, Winfrey inked a multi-year content partnership with Apple that would allow the mogul to host and produce TV shows, films and specials for the tech giant’s new streaming service, AppleTV+.
Tuesday’s news comes as Discovery is readying to launch its own international streaming service, Discovery+, next month. Although Discovery+ will focus on unscripted programming such as food, home and reality shows, it will compete directly with Apple TV+.
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