America's Got Cable: Oxygen vs. OWN

Welcome to another brutal week of America's Got Cable: The Search for the Nation's Finest Basic Cable Channel!

OLD BUSINESS: Last week's throwdown between G4 and Spike was our highest-voted matchup yet, but in the end, one of these dude channels crushed the other by a 2-to-1 margin. Brogratulations to...


Man, what a victory for the geeks! You guys really love your G4, and who can blame you? G4 is very loveable! Also, this vote brought out the best arguments yet. Some choice comments:

TroyPowell1: "The variety of shows that are on G4 waaay trumps what Spike has. Also I am a man, and when I watch Spike I feel the uncontrollable urge to juice my pecs...... No thank you!"

Left4Ed: "G4 turned Morgan Webb, a smokin' hottie geek into an automaton Barbie doll with awful bangs and no personality, and Olivia Munn got sick of being objectified by her bosses and hightailed it. Leaving Kevin Pereira, another smokin' hottie geek, to run the network on his shoulders alone. And Spike has the SCREAM Awards and Manswers and 1,000 Ways to Die. I think Spike wins this round, sad to say."

bresciababe88: "I hate to be a girl about it but G4. There's still enough video game info that it keeps my interest. I can get my ultimate fighter fix on other channels without all the lame advertising!"

Thanks everyone for voting, and especially thank you for your awesome explanations. Keep 'em coming!

NEW BUSINESS: This week's battle will begin once everyone removes their earrings!


Background: The female-centric Oxygen Channel was launched in early 2000 as a joint partnership between a former Nickelodeon executive, the sitcom superproducers behind Roseanne and The Cosby Show, and, most famously, Oprah Winfrey herself. That's right, we don't hear her talking too much about Oxygen anymore, do we? That's because only a few years after launching the channel, she distanced herself from it and later divested herself entirely before the channel was finally sold to NBCUniversal in 2007. Since then, Oxygen has become a sort of go-to for reality shows about faded stars and/or ill-behaved tramps.

Original Programming: No really, out of the 13 shows currently listed on the Oxygen website, ALL THIRTEEN are reality shows. Many of them are fashion or celebrity-oriented, like Jersey Couture, Running Russell Simmons, House of Glam, and newer additions like All About Aubrey and Tori and Dean: sTORIbook Weddings. Past shows have included the scripted (!) sitcom Campus Ladies and a personal favorite guilty pleasure, the Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, but the crown jewel of the Oxygen lineup has always been Bad Girls Club, better known as Why The Terrorists Hate Us.

Reruns Oxygen's schedule is filled with reruns of things like Law & Order: Criminal Intent, America's Next Top Model, Roseanne and—bless its heart—Living Single. Plus tons of movies (romantic comedies, mostly).

Why It's The Best: Unlike its main competitor, Lifetime, Oxygen has a youthful, high-spirited appeal and its existence provides the perfect hormonal counterbalance to Spike.

Why It's The Worst: Reality shows aren't going anywhere, but JDMA aside, the least Oxygen could do is produce watchable ones. And do you remember when the network first started and it had that permanent advertising bar at the bottom of the screen? That was pretty ahead of its time, and I don't mean that in a good way.


Background After ding-dong-ditching the cable lineup in the early 2000s, Oprah clearly got itchy for another go. Earlier this year she launched her long-threatened channel, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. This time she has more creative control and simply rebranded a pre-existing network, the Discovery Health Channel, which resulted in immediate penetration into most American living rooms. OWN may be one of the newest cable channels on the air, but it's enjoyed a lot of press coverage and it's quickly begun to forge its own identity. That identity being Oprah Winfrey's.

Original Programming: Oprah and her team have wasted no time in packing the schedule with no-brainers like Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes, Dr. Phil, The Gayle King Show and reality competition Your OWN Show: Oprah's Search for the Next TV Star. But it's also branching out into Oprah-free content, like The Judds and Kidnapped by the Kids. Plus, Lisa Ling's been working overtime on the journalistic front, hosting tons of specials on hard-hitting social issues.

Reruns: OWN tends to flex its corporate synergy muscles by raiding sister channel TLC's archives: Trading Spaces, Police Women, Say Yes to the Dress. But it also airs relevant movies, like, you know, The Color Purple.

Why It's The Best: Chalk it up to beginners' naïveté, but OWN still has a schedule full of helpful entertainment. Regardless of your tolerance for self-help spirituality, you need only scan the listings of any other channel to realize that Oprah will be nothing but a good influence on the TV landscape.

Why It's The Worst: Oprah may be the Queen of Daytime Television, but when it comes to cable channels, she's nothing but an underdog. So far, OWN hasn't been a grand slam ratings-wise, and creating a daily talk show starring Rosie O'Donnell seems both desperate and, frankly, unappetizing.

Official Verdict:

This is a tough one because neither of these channels has truly maximized its potential. However, I'll toss this one to Oprah, mostly because I'm afraid of her. OWN it is!

But now it's your turn! COMMENT BELOW and tell us your verdict: Oxygen or OWN? And make your case! What do you love or hate about each channel?

Click below to see the full tournament bracket, and read previous America's Got Cable stories here.