Did you watch Oprah Winfrey’s two-part prime-time interview with Lance Armstrong last week? I didn’t because I was out of town, but a record number of Canadians did. According to OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network Canada), over 800,000 tuned in on Jan. 17, making it the highest rated special channel show for the day in the Adults 25-54 demographic. It was the largest audience in the fledging network’s short history.
In the U.S., it was a different story. A mere 3.2 million checked out the first part of Winfrey’s sit-down with the disgraced long-distance cyclist. Yes, that number is a best-ever for OWN, which is used to close to 1 million weekly viewers, but it’s nowhere near the over 10 million viewers Winfrey used to attract on her syndicated network series. That number is almost on par with what Here Comes Honey Boo Boo gets for TLC.
So, why didn’t Oprah and Lance generate more attention? Perhaps it’s because a lot of time has passed since Armstrong was stripped of his Tour de France titles back in October — a couple months is an eternity in this world of cable news networks, Twitter and Facebook. All three were burning up last autumn when the news that Armstrong had lost his cycling medals after testimony revealed he had cheated during one of sports’ most prestigious of races came out.
Another reason record ratings weren’t in the cards? Armstrong isn’t that big of a name outside of the cycling world. Yes, he’s famous, but not Michael Jackson famous. The late pop singer’s 1993 primetime ABC appearance with Winfrey, which saw them driving around his compound answering questions about his nose job, got over 90 million people interested.
An interview with fellow late singer Whitney Houston netted Winfrey her best-ever ratings. A sit-down with Whitney’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, last March — one month after the death of Whitney — captured 3.5 million viewers on OWN.
Once the talk of the daytime television for giving away outlandish prizes; snagging A-list guests like John Travolta, Hugh Jackman and a sofa-jumping Tom Cruise; and spotlighting fakes (James Frey) and health issues (remember when she rolled out a wheelbarrow of fat?), Winfrey is losing her step in this new world of news immediacy. She’s going to have to make some changes if she wants to survive.
What did you think of Winfrey’s interview with Lance Armstrong? Comment below!